Roundtable Discussion with Prof. John J. Chernoski
On Tuesday 12 March, Prof. John J. Chernoski (USA) held a discussion at VMU Lithuanian Emigration Institute (S. Daukanto St 25). The event is part of a series dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Knights of Lithuania, an organization which unites Roman Catholic men and women of Lithuanian ancestry in the USA.
The series of events is organised by the VMU Lithuanian Emigration Institute and President Valdas Adamkus’ Library-Museum.
Knights of Lithuania (Lietuvos Vyčiai in Lithuanian) was founded on 27 April 1913 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. At first, its purpose was to unite the Lithuanian youth living in the USA, and through them, preserve Lithuanian culture and restore freedom to Lithuania, which was then divided between Russia and Germany.
After Lithuania declared independence in 1918, Knights of Lithuania brought together the Lithuanian Legion, founded the so-called “Sword Foundation”, and used the collected funds to buy a golden sword to Silvestras Žukauskas, who served as Chief of General Staff and the Supreme Commander of Lithuanian Army in 1919. The organization sent donations to Lithuanian riflemen and the Soldier Care Association, and kept close relations with Lithuanian Catholic youth organizations (pavasarininkai and ateitininkai).
After World War II, there were few incoming Lithuanians joining the organization, so it gradually transformed into an entity which united descendants of Lithuanians who left the country during the tsarist occupation.
Even though most members of Knights of Lithuania can’t speak Lithuanian, they try to retain their national identity with cultural events, lectures, singing and dancing. The organization gives donations to St. Casimir Lithuanian Collegium (Collegium Lithuanum S. Casimiro) in Rome and publishes books about religion.