On August 23rd, 2014, despite stormy weather and heavy rain, hundreds of Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians, Americans and other freedom loving people gathered for „Embrace Freedom the Baltic Way“ concert at Chicago’s Daley Plaza, where they stood united for freedom and peace in the world. Event was organized on the occasion of two anniversaries – 75th of Molotov-Ribentrop pact and 25th of the Baltic Way, and was honored by the attendance of U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, as well as U.S. Representative John Shimkus, who is of Lithuanian descent, Lithuanian and Latvian Ambassadors to the USA Žygimantas Pavilionis and Andris Razāns.
Concert included performances of Algirdas Kaušpėdas, one of the brightest symbols of the Lithuanian singing revolution, Armands Birkens, a Latvian musician and singer, associated with the liberation movement in the Baltic countries, noted Estonian soloist Kristi Roosmaa, and talented Leo Radosavljevic. There was also a surprise guest – famous Ukrainian singer Sofiya Fedyna. Chicago’s very own Lithuanian song ensemble “Dainava”, and dance groups “DanceDuo”, “Laumė” and “Suktinis” have beautifully enriched the program by their performances. For the concert finale everyone on the Plaza joined hands and sang the legendary song “Bunda jau Baltija” (“The Baltics now Awaken”), thus remembering the Baltic Way and showing solidarity with all nations striving for freedom and independence.
In addition to the musical performance, an exhibit, “No Home To Go To. The Story of Baltic Displaced Persons.”, organized by the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture and its partners, was presented in the lobby of the Daley Center. Lithuanian restaurant “Grand Duke’s” was offering to taste a variety of traditional dishes.
“Embrace Freedom the Baltic Way” was presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania in Chicago, the Lithuanian-American Community, the Honorary Consuls of Latvia and Estonia along with the Latvian and Estonian communities of the Chicagoland area, and the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture. Event sponsored by “Lithuanian Foundation”, “Lithuanian-American Community”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as Latvian and Estonian Honorary Consuls and communities.
The organizers are sincerely thankful to all volunteers, who contributed their time and effort to make the event possible, especially to Skaistė Bosas, Audrė Budrys-Nakas, Rima Gungor, Aušra Jasaitė-Paulauskas, Ramunė Lapas, Sonata Kazimieraitiene, Jonas Kuprys, Vida Kuprytė, Darius Polikaitis, Loreta Timukienė and others.
Photos by Jona Kupris and Andrius Šližius