Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on February 18th, 2008
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Lietuvos Taryba. wikipedia

Vincas asked me last week if I had any special plans for celebrating V-16, the 90th anniversary of the 1918 Lithuanian Declaration of Independence. His question struck me as odd; I never considered doing something other than, say, going down to Champaign to get drunk with the Baltic Club, as they now host a Champaign V-16 Bar Crawl for the second year.I hated V-16 as a kid, as the holiday was always marked with boring minėjimai in the claustrophobic basement of St. Peter’s in South Boston. And now that I’m an adult, the stench of strident nationalism has kept me away (as has abject laziness, academic commitments, Super Mario Galaxy, u.s.w.).

The stark way that Vincas asked the question, though, made me feel odd for not commemorating the event, so I decided to stage an anti-commemoration of sorts on these pages. That is, I’m not so certain that V-16 deserves our commemorating. The establishment of the Republic of Lithuania involved a lot of hard decisions regarding several competing tensions, all tugging away at different views of what that part of Europe should look like. It strikes me that in choosing as they did, the Lietuvos Taryba perhaps did more harm than good, creating animosities that last to this day. And while I hesitate to affix a valuative judgment on the enterprise as a whole, I think that a deeper understanding is very, very useful as a way of refashioning a self-understanding as “Lithuanian.”

The next three posts, then, will hopefully create the space for this anti-commemoration. The first post, which I hope goes up today, will be a sort of contextualization of the different theoretical conflicts in Lithuania at the time. It will be the most generally historical. The second part will be more about the actual results of the declaration of independence, mostly in the way it harmed relationships among various ethnic, religious, and social groups, wondering if the strident nationalist goal of an independent Lithuania was worth it. The third part will be a recovery, trying to imagine what a politically sound V-16 commemoration might feature.

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2 Responses to “Anti-commemorating V-16: Intro”

  1. would you commemorate it if you lived in LT?

  2. No, I probably would not, except that I’d enjoy the day off, or whatever. In short, I would celebrate it as I celebrate July 4 here—I’m glad I don’t have work, and that is all. These posts are trying to point out that the extra mile Lithuanian diaspora organizations go through to commemorate is somehow out of sync with a politically OK Republic of Lithuania.

    March 11, I suspect, is a far more important date to me—and, in fact, one could easily argue that the bravery shown in 1990 leaves the bravery of 1918 in the dust. How bold was it to declare independence 3 months after declaring yourself a German Protectorate? To declare independence from a state in the midst of a civil war?

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