Global True Lithuania Lithuanian communities and heritage worldwide

Destination – America

DESTINATION - AMERICA interactive online map of the Lithuanian heritage!

The map is now already pubhlished. Hereunder you may find the explanation of the project, written after its initiation.

DESTINATION - AMERICA is a new and unique massive project to research and publish the information about the Lithuanian heritage in the northeastern USA to make it easily accessible online.

With 50% of all Lithuanian Americans living in its area and Lithuanian migration there ~150 years old, northeastern USA is teeming with Lithuanian locations ripe to be discovered by a wider society.

There are 100+-year old massive Lithuanian churches, clubs, and cemeteries. There are graves of famous Lithuanian-Americans: some well known just in Lithuania, some just in America, some deserving much more attention for their achievements. There are locations important to the whole Lithuanian culture, such as the places where the first-in-the-world Lithuanian novel and encyclopedia were printed (yes, both happened in the USA), where the oldest Lithuanian-language newspaper is published (also in the USA). There are locations that may interest American history buffs, such as the authentic EXPO 1939 New York Lithuanian exposition, stranded for safeguarding in the USA after Lithuania fell under World War 2 occupation.

Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago is among the city's prettiest churches (pictured during previous True Lithuania research). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

DESTINATION - AMERICA scope

During the DESTINATION - AMERICA project:

1.True Lithuania team will visit well over 100 Lithuania-related locations in at least 10 US states and Washington DC. During these visits, True Lithuania team will take pictures and meet the local Lithuanians who could tell stories of the locations. This will enhance a massive not-on-location research about the locations already made and published. This "field research" will take place between September 18th, 2017 and October 4th, 2017, driving ~3000 km in the US northeast. Even before that, the Lithuanian-American locations are being researched by True Lithuania to ensure the best use of time while in America.

The preliminary plan of where the DESTINATION AMERICA volunteers will go. A distance of 3000 km will be covered in 15 days. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

2.After the journey, an interactive bilingual online map will be created to make it easy for everybody to find the Lithuanian locations. The map and the linked website will also include both short and long descriptions of the objects and their images. The map will be ready by December 2017.

An example of how the interactive map will look like. Here is a New York section with the Transfiguration Lithuanian church clicked on. The description may be expanded by clicking on the link. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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. 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.

Jogaila monument in the Central Park of New York. Google Street View.

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.

Vytis (Lithuanian coat of arms) detail on a building in the Niagara Falls resort. Google Street View.

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 the Lithuania.

A Lithuanian-American museum in Detroit (visited during previous research). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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.

The America's oldest Lithuanian church of Shenandoah (PA) in a postcard (left) and its empty lot after its demolition (right). Lithuanians still make up 6% of the county's and 14% of the town population.

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.

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.

Who runs DESTINATION - AMERICA?

DESTINATION - AMERICA project is led by Augustinas Žemaitis, who is the owner of the True Lithuania website. He is researching Lithuanian heritage for 5 years and has previously been on "field trips" to Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, USA, Latvia, Australia, mostly as detours from other activities. However, this is his largest project so far, and the first trip dedicated solely to the Lithuanian heritage.

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

DESTINATION - AMERICA is partly funded by the government of Lithuania. It also greatly depends on volunteer work and the Lithuanian-American cooperation. The project is meant to celebrate the centenary of the Republic of Lithuania.