Global True Lithuania Lithuanian communities and heritage worldwide

Destination – America

DESTINATION - AMERICA interactive online map of the Lithuanian heritage has been created by volunteers of „Global True Lithuania“ who visited all that heritage, marked its locations, took its pictures and heard its stories.

 Interactive map „Destination America“

Interactive map „Destination America“

So far, „Destination – America“ includes the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions.

What are Lithuanian-American sites?

The Lithuanian sites of northeastern USA range from century-old churches to equally-old lavish clubhouses, from monuments and memorial plaques to Lithuanian museums and graves of famous Lithuanians.

New England and Mid-Atlantic regions house almost half of all the Lithuanian-Americans. Their immigration began ~1865. The region even has Lithuanian sites that are important to the whole Lithuanian nation: for example, the world‘s first Lithuanian novel was published not in Lithuania but in Pennsylvania. The first Lithuanian brass band has been also established there. The region has the largest Lithuanian-American art museum, the „Mindaugas castle“, a Lithuanian park and guest house, half a hundred of Lithuanian cemeteries full of impressive gravestones, Lithuanian monasteries, a monument to a Lithuanian king in New York‘s Central Park and so on. There are many Lithuanian traces in the former immigration ports, coal mines, and factories, as well as in the world‘s largest museum of basketball.

 Monument of the King Jogaila in New Yorks‘s Central Park

Monument of the King Jogaila in New Yorks‘s Central Park

Those sites are extremely interesting. Many of them are visited by the Lithuanians and Americans alike. However, the majority are still pretty much unknown and off-the-beaten-path, some are crumbling.

They fail to attract attention not because they are uninteresting or unimportant but rather because the information about those objects is inaccessible to the masses. It is known only to the old dying-out generation of Lithuanian and published only in old newspapers or rare research works which are also limited in scope.

The main hall of the Baltimore Lithuanian Hall

The main hall of the Baltimore Lithuanian Hall

DESTINATION – AMERICA aims to change that.

What did DESTINATION – AMERICA achieve?

1.True Lithuania team has visited 301 Lithuanian sites in 106 towns and cities in 11 US states and Washington, D.C.. During these visits, True Lithuania team has met up to 200 locals (mostly Lithuanian-Americans), heard their stories of the Lithuanian sites, took pictures (almost 9000 in total). The part of the project in the USA took 19 days during which the team has covered 4500+ kilometers. Such a tight schedule was possible the necessary information for the project has been already collected for 5 years by the „True Lithuania“ team, therefore, it knew well in advance what exactly to do in the USA to cover the informational holes that still existed

 The map of DESTINATION – AMERICA volunteer expedition

The map of DESTINATION – AMERICA volunteer expedition

2.The results of the research have been made available online on 2017 12 01 as an interactive map of the Lithuanian-American sites. The map consists not only of the locations. It also has both shorter and longer descriptions and pictures, making the places easily visitable and understood. In the map, the reader may filter objects by their appeal, category, state, and city. In addition to images, it is also possible to see the Google Street View data. Moreover, the information at the „Global True Lithuania“ website has been updated greatly after DESTINATION AMERICA as well, with all the respective articles expanded with images, new sites and new information.

An exmaple of the interactive map of a locality

An exmaple of the interactive map of a locality

3.US regional media has expressed interest in the Lithuanian heritage of their regions. The project was also especially well received in Lithuania and by the Lithuanian-American media.

 One of many articles on the DESTINATION AMERICA project in Draugas newspaper

One of many articles on the DESTINATION AMERICA project in Draugas newspaper

Why DESTINATION - AMERICA?

DESTINATION AMERICA aims to:

1.Encourage Lithuanians to learn about the Lithuanian-American heritage, add it to their travel itineraries. These days, the tourism to the foreign sites related to oneself and one's nation is gaining popularity worldwide. Unlike the Jews, Poles, Germans, and other ethnicities, however, Lithuanians know little about their heritage abroad so far as getting such information online is difficult.

 Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, once the worksite for thousands of Lithuanians and now a tourist sight where their plight may be better understood by everybody

Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, once the worksite for thousands of Lithuanians and now a tourist sight where their plight may be better understood by everybody

2.Encourage Lithuanian-Americans to learn about the Lithuanian heritage in the other cities, add it to their travel itineraries. Unfortunately, we find that it is common that many Lithuanian-Americans know well only the Lithuanian heritage in their own regions. Even if the Lithuanian in other regions may interest them as well, often there is too little information.

Baltimore Lithuanian museum. These materials were used in the pro-Lithuanian-freedom protests at the US Capitol, with crosses symbolizing the January Massacre (1991) victims. The statue is the top of a replica of Kaunas Freedom Statue, destroyed by the Soviets

Baltimore Lithuanian museum. These materials were used in the pro-Lithuanian-freedom protests at the US Capitol, with crosses symbolizing the January Massacre (1991) victims. The statue is the top of a replica of Kaunas Freedom Statue, destroyed by the Soviets

3.Encourage non-Lithuanian Americans to learn about the key Lithuanian-American heritage (that may be next door) and the importance of Lithuanian-Americans to American history, increasing the feelings of mutual understanding between the Lithuanian and American nations. Currently, as the new immigration from Lithuania is at its low, the Lithuanian-Americans are being replaced by other minorities in the public perception of what a minority is, decreasing media and researcher attention to them and to Lithuanians in general. This could hopefully be changed by the realization of the amount of Lithuanian-American heritage and the importance America had to Lithuania, and these Lithuanians had to America.

 An artwork in the Washington basilica of Immaculate Conception depicts the Lithuanian emigration (the Vytis of Lithuanian coat of arms is galloping accross the Ocean from Kaunas War Museum to New York‘s Liberty Statue).

An artwork in the Washington basilica of Immaculate Conception depicts the Lithuanian emigration (the Vytis of Lithuanian coat of arms is galloping accross the Ocean from Kaunas War Museum to New York‘s Liberty Statue). It is one of the thousands of historically significant Lithuanian artworks.

4.Take pictures of the Lithuanian heritage in America before some of it will, unfortunately, be destroyed. Much of the Lithuanian-American heritage is in peril, with several Lithuanian churches literally torn down every year (and their number has been already reduced by an order of magnitude). Much of Lithuanian heritage is destroyed without even any of their images being publically available online.

 Abandoned Lithuanian school in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvnaia, with a Vytis on the facade.

Abandoned Lithuanian school in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania, with a Vytis on the facade.

5.Encourage protection of the Lithuanian-American heritage through the increased public interest in such heritage. It is usually easier to protect heritage when it has garnered tourist, researcher, and other interest.

 A chapel for those died for Lithuanian freedom glowing in the night at Kennebunk Lithuanian park which now attracts American tourists as well

A chapel for those died for Lithuanian freedom glowing in the night at Kennebunk Lithuanian park

Lithuanian-American locations in America are important to Lithuania, Lithuanians, Lithuanians-Americans (old and new) and Americans, and only through that realization, they could survive and they could be enjoyed by much more people than they are now.

 The map with intergated Google Street View (currently showing the Pittsburgh Lithuanian club)

The map with intergated Google Street View (currently showing the Pittsburgh Lithuanian club)

Who runs DESTINATION - AMERICA?

DESTINATION - AMERICA project is led by Augustinas Žemaitis, who is the owner of the True Lithuania website and the Global True Lithuania website. He is researching Lithuanian heritage since 2012 years and has previously been on "field trips" to Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, USA, Latvia, Australia, mostly as detours from his other activities. However, DESTINATION AMERICA is his largest project so far, and the first trip dedicated solely to the Lithuanian heritage.

Augustinas Žemaitis marking the exact coordinates of the famous Lithuanian-American poet Henrikas Radauskas‘s grave in Washington

Augustinas Žemaitis marking the exact coordinates of the famous Lithuanian-American poet Henrikas Radauskas‘s grave in Washington

DESTINATION - AMERICA is partly funded by the government of Lithuania. It also greatly depends on volunteer work and the Lithuanian-American cooperation. The list and pictures of the project authors and helpers may be found here. The project is meant to celebrate the centenary of the Republic of Lithuania.

Augustinas Žemaitis (right) standing next to Lithuanian monuments in Adelaide, Australia, together with the leader of the local Lithuanians.

Did DESTINATION AMERICA already end?

No. The first phase of the project has been completed and DESTINATION AMERICA now covers 11 US states, as well as the Washington city. However, even though those areas combined host over 40% of Lithuanian-Americans and more than 50% of Lithuanian-American heritage, they are still far from everything.

Even before the publication of DESTINATION – AMERICA map we have already received many questions by Lithuanian-Americans asking when the map could include Chicago, Cleveland, and other cities.

Depending on the financial possibilities, at least two additional expeditions are planned in order to expand the map: DESTINATION AMERICA 2018 would visit the Mid-West region (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri), while DESTINATION AMERICA 2019 would cover Canada and the western New York state.

However, even in the cities and towns already visited by DESTINATION AMERICA 2017, there may be some Lithuanian places that have been so forgotten that the DESTINATION AMERICA team was not able to find any information about them. However, after the map was published and the information about it has circulated the media, we’ve been contacted by people who know such sites. They have told us their coordinates and sent us pictures. If you know places that are not marked so far, we’d be glad if you’d do the same.

The DESTINATION AMERICA map is here!