Date: February 10, 2002
Place: St. Elizabeth Seton Parish Church and Hall, Sun City, Arizona
Our Lithuanian Independence Day celebration started with a Lithuanian Mass celebrated at the beautiful St. Elizabeth Seton Parish church in Sun City, Arizona.
After the Mass everyone moved to the adjacent parish hall, decorated with flowers and white tablecloths, where the commemoration continued. After a brief welcome by Rimantas Vaitkus, our m.c. Danguole Balceris took over the running of the program. The first half of the program began with the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner, a minute of silence to honor those who gave their lives for Lithuania's freedom, and the invocation by the pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton parish, Rev. Franklin L. Bartel. At this point food was served and the program did not restart until after the dessert. Next, the recently appointed Lithuania's Honorary Consul for the Arizona region, K. Paul Zygas, was introduced to the audience and he acquainted everyone with the duties of his new office. Then, our main speaker, Kestutis J. Eidukonis, LC, USAR Ret., acquainted the audience with the difficult circumstances of life in Lithuania and future prospects for improvement. The first half of the program ended with the reading of a resolution in favor of Lithuania's invitation to join NATO by Joana Ziuraitis and the unanimous acceptance of the resolution by everyone present.
The second half of the program consisted of six Lithuanian folk dances performed by Arizona's own dance group "Saule" ably directed by Dalia Motiejunas and accompanied by accordeonist Romas Zyle, and Lithuanian poetry beautifully recited by Aldona Gencius. The program ended with the Lithuanian National anthem. After the program everyone was able to enjoy a beautiful exhibit of traditional Lithuanian weaving and amber jewelry by Milda Kvedaras.
Our special thanks goes to the people who volunteered their time and effort to make this commemoration a success: Archbishop Paul Marcinkus for celebrating Mass and for his words of guidance; Mary Gallagher for making the arrangements for the fine facility and for advertizing in the parish paper; Danguole Balceris for being our m.c.; pastor Franklin Bartel for the invocation; Kestutis Eidukonis for the interesting and informative talk; Algis Motiejunas for helping to set up the hall; Audrone Bartys for decorating the hall; Milda Kvedaras for showing us her beautiful creations; Dr. Stanley Vanagunas and Severina Vanagunas for selling tickets; Vytautas Reklaitis for collecting donations; and all the members of the Saule dance group for their wonderful performance. But, above all, we are indebted to Aldona Gencius, who worked a whole week preparing the wonderful Lithuanian food. She was assisted by Aldona Vaitkus.