VILNIUS—In Lithuania, March 11 is the national holiday to celebrate the declaration of the restoration of national independence in 1990. The national celebrations include a huge and admirably inclusive march of several thousand people in the central street of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. (This is distinct from the February 18 national independence holiday which commemorates the rise of the interwar Lithuanian republic in 1918.)
Sadly, however, for the ethnocentric, ultranationalist mindset, this delightful event is not good enough. They insist on their own “patriotic” version, and they apply each year for their “traditional march of ethnic youth” to march later in the afternoon. Sadly, since 2008 (each year covered on site by Defending History), the city authorities have readily gifted them the beautiful central boulevard, Gedimino Prospect. Perhaps this year it is particularly sad, because all the peoples of Vilnius who live today in delightful harmony in the city are together celebrating its 700th birthday. Seven hundred years ago, in 1323, the city was founded by Grand Duke Gediminas (Gedymin), who famously remained a tolerant multitheist, and readily welcomed Jews and many others to his brand new city that came to be known around the world as Vilna.