Lithuanians are getting ready for a unique event on July 6: they’re going to sing the national anthem all around the world simultaneously.
Lithuanians and their descendants are going to get up from their work stations, beds, dinner tables, plane seats, and out of their cars at 8 p.m. Paris, 2 p.m. New York, 3 p.m. Buenos Aires, and 3:30 a.m. Adelaide. At exactly 9 p.m. UTC+3 (Lithuanian time), banishing all the miles, borders, and times zones that separate them, they’re going to raise their voices in unison to sing their national anthem. This is how Lithuania, a state with as many as a third of its countrymen living abroad, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its Reestablishment of Statehood.
The idea behind this is to start a 4-million-man flash mob. That’s more Lithuanians than ever physically lived in Lithuania. This event could become a very real expression of Lithuanian global unity. Current calculations show 2.8 million Lithuanians to be living in Lithuania, while 1.5 million live abroad, mostly in Great Britain, Norway, the U.S.A., Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Australia. We joke that you can’t go anywhere without catching sight of sparrows and more Lithuanians.
The current assessment is that the Lithuanian State has been in contact with about 15% of the diaspora, but through this event we hope to get in touch with as many descendants as possible. According to the organizers, as the world becomes more and more mobile, such an event can be the first step to a new network structure of society that is defined not by geography, but by human relationships.
Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, has already issued a video invitation to Lithuanians and their friends throughout the world to celebrate Lithuania’s centennial by singing the anthem. Many Lithuanians driven by initiative and citizenship have joined her on social networks, such as Lithuanian-American actress Ruta Lee, New York-based artist Ray Bartkus, Lithuanian-American writer Ruta Sepetys, and many others. Various businesses, organizations, and media in Lithuania have also collaborated to get together as many friends to commemorate this unprecedented global event. We already know that on July 6th you’ll be able to hear the national anthem on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, by the Colosseum in Rome, at the Burj al Arab building in Dubai, on the roof of the opera building in Oslo, as well as Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles.
The hashtags #musu4milijonai and #tautiskagiesme will allow you to find many broadcasts and videos from various parts of the world. Lithuanians around the globe are tagging their anthem locations on www.4000000.lt/en.
National Anthem Across the Globe initiative
July 6, National Statehood Day, is going to be the 10-th time the Lithuanian national anthem has been sung worldwide. This initiative was born in 2009 during Lithuania's millennial anniversary of being mentioned in written history. The citizen flash mob naturally stuck around as a growing Lithuanian national tradition. Although previously everybody sang the anthem at 9 p.m. local time, this year everyone is invited to sing simultaneously in the name of national unity.
Over the course of nearly a decade this initiative has changed the mindset of citizens living in Lithuania, as well. Until then, the Lithuanian national anthem would usually only be heard at official events and under very formal circumstances. The National Anthem Across the Globe initiative brought the hymn into people’s homes, the streets, and squares - every space, public and private, where we feel the passion to sing. You could say that this initiative allowed the anthem to be realized in a way that’s coded in the title of the song (Tautiska giesme =>> Nations’ song): the hymn belongs to the nation, to everyone who cherishes the fatherland.
Now Lithuanians around the world are preparing to sign their national anthem, and have been since the beginning of summer - community organizers are putting together holiday events, getting people ready, and inviting family and friends. Lithuanians celebrate their Statehood Day annually by making the hymn the epicenter of the day.
Lithuania celebrates 100 years of State Restoration in 2018 with ever-greater efforts to unite the Lithuanians living throughout the world. The purpose of the initiative this years is to invite 4 million Lithuanians across the globe to sing their National Anthem on July 6th, which is more than have ever even lived in the territory of Lithuania.
The organizers hope to contact not only the 2.8 million Lithuanian citizens living at home, but also the 1.2 million Lithuanians and their ancestors living, working, studying, and traveling around the world. It’s one of the most extensive efforts ever to reach out to the Lithuanian diaspora.
We’re calling on all Lithuanians and their ancestors to leave their mark on the digital map on the official www.4000000.lt platform and sing the national anthem in unison on July 6th all around the world.
Lithuanians around the world
An emigration problem emerged beginning in 1990 with Lithuania's renewed independence. Statistics department data shows that over 600,000 people have left the country over 28 years. While the State develops strategies to get people to repatriate, more and more private and community groups have begun seeking ties to foreign-based Lithuanians as their primary goal.
Emigration from Lithuania is not a new phenomenon. Scientists have demonstrated that from the end of the 19th century as many as 1.9 million Lithuanians have left for a new life on all six continents. The majority of them still have an emotional tie to their Lithuanian roots, even if they were born outside of actual Lithuania, don’t know the language, and have never even visited. These folks do still remember their Lithuanian heritage and value their Lithuanian identity - they just feel Lithuanian
So many Lithuanians living abroad have become stars in their fields, making Lithuania famous in the world. Among them are the filmmaker Jonas Mekas (New York, U.S.A.), the writer Rūta Šepetys (U.S.A.), the artist Samuel Bak (Boston, U.S.A.), the Yale Professor, Nobel of Economics winner (2013) Robertas Šileris, the former mayor of Bogota, Columbia, Antanas Mockus, the conductor and director of the Salzburg State and Birmingham symphonic orchestras Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the poet Tomas Venclova (U.S.A.), as well as many others. There is also a great Lithuanian-Jewish community in the world, too - they’re called Litwaks. Even such rock-stars as the Canadian painter Leonard Cohen, the American musician Bob Dylan, and the avaunt-gard American composer Philip Glass have alluded to their Lithuanian roots.
About the Lithuanian Centennial
The centennial of the Lithuanian Reestablishment of Independence is this year, 2018, the 100 year anniversary of the democratic principle-based declaration of Lithuanian independence, with Vilnius as its capital and diplomatic relations with other countries. Despite the fifty-year occupation by the Soviet Union (1940-1990), the documents signed on February 16th,, 1918, were the foundation of the March 11th, 1990 documents declaring independence from the Soviet Union establishing the modern-day Republic of Lithuania.