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Saturday, 08 March 2014 18:43

President-elect of the Boy Scouts of America Gates: Lithuanian scouts celebrate a remarkable journey Featured

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Lithuanian Scouts Association celebrates 65 years of scouting for Lithuanian immigrants on four continents Lithuanian Scouts Association celebrates 65 years of scouting for Lithuanian immigrants on four continents Photo by Ludo Segers

Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and newly elected President of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), congratulated Lithuanian scouts on 65th anniversary of scouting for Lithuanian immigrant on four continents.

In his letter Gates wrote:

"I wish to personally congratulate the Republic of Lithuania and Lithuanian Scouts Association as you recognize 65 years of scouting for Lithuanian immigrants on four continents, and the 24th anniversary of the re-establishment of the State of Lithuania.

The celebration of this noteworthy milestone is confirmation of the continued commitment to serving Lithuanian youth, even across many years of turmoil and uncertainty. This is a commitment, shared between our two nations, that travels beyond international borders.

Not long ago, the Boy Scouts of America celebrated its centennial anniversary. It was a time of jubilant celebration and it was a time of reflection on the important role scouting plays in a young person’s life. The future and vitality of our world depends on how we serve, educate and build our next generation leaders.

As you prepare for your own Centennial Celebration of Lithuanian scouting in 2018, I offer my best wishes for continued success of what has already been a remarkable journey."

Gates’s letter was read during a solemn ceremony held at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on March 7th along with the congratulatory letter from President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite.

The ceremony was attended by leaders of the Lithuanian Scout Association, Inc., including Chief Executive Gintautas Taoras, an official delegation from the largest Lithuania’s scout organization Lietuvos Skautija, led by Chief Scout Ieva Žilinskienė and Chairman of the Board Tomas Broga, the BSA international representative Charles “Chuck” Davidson, Scout Executive of National Capital Council of the BSA Les Baron, representatives of the Girl Scouts of America and the Lithuanian American community, US Congressional staff members, diplomats  and other guests. 

I wish to personally congratulate the Republic of Lithuania and Lithuanian Scouts Association as you recognize 65 years of scouting for Lithuanian immigrants on four continents, and the 24th anniversary of the re-establishment of the State of Lithuania.| Robert Gates, National Presdent-Elect, BSA

Minister of Education and Science of Lithuania Dainius Pavalkis, who was on a visit to the U.S., also attended the event.

The host of the event, Lithuanian ambassador to the US Žygimantas Pavilionis, highlighted the positive work the Lithuanian scouts in immigration have done to preserve a Lithuanian scouting tradition alive.

“I am honored to welcome scouts at the historical Lithuanian Embassy and look forward to working with you who make Lithuanian scouting what it is today — a powerful movement providing life-changing opportunities to today’s Lithuanian youth,” Pavilionis said.

This event at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. was a part of the preparation for the Centennial Celebration of Lithuanian scouting in 2018.

Lithuanian scouting flourished during the twenty-two years of Lithuanian independence, between the world wars. After occupation forces banned scouting in Lithuania in 1940, the tradition of Lithuanian scouting was kept alive in exile on four continents, and especially in the USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and the UK.

When the liberation movement started in Lithuania in 1989, Lithuanian scouts in exile worked closely with Lithuania to re-establish the scout movement and restart scouting activities in the country.

Rolandas Kačinskas, deputy mission chief of the Lithuanian embassy in Washington, D.C. and a rover scout himself, said:  
“The fact that Lithuanian scouting in exile flourished during the 50 years of Soviet occupation, and is still active today, in its 65th year and counting, is a testimony to the strength of B-P’s idea among the Lithuanian youth.”

A remarkable journey of the Lithuanian scouts was featured in a retrospective photographic exhibit also in disply at the Lithuanian Embasy during the ceremony. 

The event at the embassy ended with a concert by “Tolimi Aidai” from Los Angeles and a scout chant oustide the embassy "Lithuania Loves Freedom" (Lith."Lietuva myli Laisvę"). (See viedo below).

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