America’s red, white and blue joined Lithuania’s yellow, green and red at Cicero’s Community Center on February 23 as the town celebrated America’s presidents and Lithuania’s independence during a joint ceremony.
Hosted by Town President Larry Dominick and the Office of Special Events, the dual ceremony celebrated George Washington’s birthday, commonly called Presidents Day, which was observed on Feb. 20 this year. As one of Illinois’ favorite sons, coupling Abraham Lincoln’s birthday with Washington’s became a popular tradition after the Civil War. Lincoln’s birthday is Feb. 12 while Washington’s is recognized as Feb. 22. Adding to the list of presidents honored in the town were those who have called Illinois home: Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.
Afterwards, John Kociolko, former Cicero assessor, commemorated Lithuanian Independence Day with a brief introduction of the Hon. Marijus Gudynas, Lithuanian Consul General stationed in Chicago. A special moment honored the passing of local Lithuanian activist Mindy Bauchus, who was instrumental in the town’s celebration of Lithuanian independence.
Lithuanians have called Cicero home for many years, especially after the nation’s initial independence in 1918 and prior to Lithuania’s break from the former Soviet Union in 1990. Their rich tradition was on full display as both American and Lithuanian national anthems were played while the color guard representing each nation stood and saluted. The Lithuanian flag was flown alongside the American flag for the following week to commemorate Lithuania’s struggles for independence in the 20th Century.