Cicero Honors Lithuanian Independence, American Presidency

Cicero’s Community Center was filled with red, white and blue along with yellow, green and red on Feb. 11 as the Town celebrated America’s presidents and Lithuania’s independence at a joint ceremony.

Hosted by Town President Larry Dominick and the Office of Special Events, the dual ceremony started with the recognition of what is commonly called Presidents Day, which was Feb. 15 this year. The third Monday in February is recognized as the federal holiday observing George Washington’s birthday, but the legacy of Abraham Lincoln — coupled with his birthday not long after America’s first president — had many states combine the two days into one holiday. Cicero’s ceremony recognizes the contributions of both presidents as well as those of others who have called Illinois home: Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Afterwards, John Kociolko, former Cicero assessor and unofficial Town historian, commemorated Lithuanian Independence Day with a brief introduction of the Hon. Marijus Gudynas, Lithuanian Consul General stationed in Chicago. Also in attendance was Lithuanian activist Mindy Bauchus, and Town officials including Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Supervisor Joe Virruso, and trustees Dennis Raleigh, Victor Garcia and Larry Banks.

Many Lithuanians have called Cicero home, 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 also flown alongside the American flag for the week following the ceremony to remember the struggles for Lithuanian independence from both eras.

This year’s ceremony included a choral performance to commemorate the Baltic nation’s freedom. The choir performed both national anthems for the large crowd in attendance.