Global True Lithuania Lithuanian communities and heritage worldwide

United States of America

According to the US census of 2001, there are some 700 000 Lithuanian-Americans. This is the largest Lithuanian community outside Lithuania and the most important one. There is much Lithuanian heritage in the USA, especially in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and the industrial cities of the Midwest.

Lithuanians settled in the USA in three separate eras, so-called "waves". The first wave arrived in the late 19th century (when Lithuania was occupied and discriminated by Russian Empire). Some 300 000 Lithuanian peasants left their agricultural lives for workplaces in Pennsylvanian mines, slaughterhouses of Chicago and factories in other major cities. Speaking little English they formed their own districts and communities, founded Lithuanian newspapers and orchestras, funded extremely lavish churches (for their humble lifestyle) and now lay in cemeteries covered by massive tombstones.The first wave was curbed by the limits on immigration imposed in 1908 by the US government but its legacy continued.

The first wave Lithuanian-Americans campaign for the liberty of Lithuania in the 1910s. Some of them returned after 1918 independence to help their homeland get on its feet.

The second wave came after World War 2. People who managed to escape the Soviet regime were finally able to leave overcrowded refugee camps in Germany in some 1948. The USA welcomed up to 100 000 of them, never having recognized the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. These refugees were primarily intellectuals, artists, and the elite. Feeling to have been forced from their homeland rather than leaving it due to economical reasons they were/are very patriotic, taking part in various Lithuanian groups and social gatherings, Lithuanian churches being among the most important. Even many people born in the USA to such Lithuanian parents are more attached to Lithuania than to their new homeland. The massive second wave of immigrants fought hard to advance the Lithuanian cause and established an entire nation of Lithuania-in-exile, with its government in Washington, DC and all the necessary institutions. Their tireless work contributed to the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990. This event came just at the time when time started to take its toll on the second wave Lithuanian-American communities. However many were still in good health in the 1990s and some left their comfortable American lives for restored free Lithuania using their experience and money to help rebuild their homeland after decades of Soviet misrule. Among these returnees was president Valdas Adamkus (1998-2009), two presidential candidates and multiple businessmen. In a sense, this helped to make Lithuania of the late 1990s more American than European in various ways.

Lithuanians DPs in a ship which moves them from refugee camps in Germany to a new world (left image). They later established cohesive communities, such as the one centered around this new (1950s) Nativity BVM church in Marquette Park, Chicago (right image).

The third wave immigrated after the restoration of independence opened the borders yet again. The reasons for migration were economical as years of Soviet rule left Lithuanian economy shattered. At one time some half of Lithuanian US tourist visa holders would not return home. After Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004 this migration diminished as more people opted for Western Europe instead. Third wave immigrants are generally less attached to their native culture than the previous waves. Influenced by long Soviet state atheism they are also less religious. They failed to replenish Lithuanian churches and therefore American dioceses went on to Lithuanian church closure and demolition spree in the 2000s. The number of people that consider Lithuanian culture important also decrease as the older generations pass away. Some of the things you can see today may no longer be there after a couple of years, so be quick.

Mini-museum of Lithuania at St. Anthony church in Detroit (closed 2013). Old Lithuanian American parishes, clubs, and other institutions typically include memorabilia such as Lithuanian flags, emblems, anthem texts, ethnic clothes, religious symbols, historical and modern images, names of important people and freedom fighters. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Chicago is regarded to be the capital of Lithuanian Americans. There were several Lithuanian neighborhoods and two streets are still named after Lithuania. Lithuanians constructed many churches, the most elaborate being Holy Cross in the Back of the Yards (1913). There are two extensive Lithuanian cemeteries: the Roman Catholic St. Casimir and multidenominational Lithuanian National Cemetery. Several monuments and plaques exist, the most famous being the memorial for pilots S. Darius and S. Girėnas, the first Lithuanians to perform a transatlantic flight. The world's oldest Lithuanian language newspaper Draugas is published in Chicago since 1909. There are opportunities for tasting Lithuanian dishes (even though they are less common than in the 1990s or before). You may also visit the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian culture, the only such institution outside Lithuania.

The rule of the thumb is that in every city that used to be major in early 20th century exist be Lithuanian communities and heritage, primarily churches and cemeteries. This can be said about Cleveland and Detroit near the Great Lakes as well as Boston, Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia on the Eastern coast. Los Angeles is the only city in the west to have a sizeable Lithuanian community (and a church). Ater all the America's West was much less populated at the time of second and especially the first waves of Lithuanian immigration.

Pennsylvania has a large population of Lithuanians in its small Coal Region towns, in some places exceeding 10%. Shenandoah used to be called Vilnius of America. Here you may also find Lithuanian churches and cemeteries (unfortunately many churches, such as the 19th century one in Shenandoah, were condemned to demolition or are no longer used for religious purposes). Lake Kasulaitis in Pennsylvania is a rare Lithuanian toponym on the American continent.

Washington DC has a Lithuanian embassy that served like a shadow government in the years of Soviet occupation.

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  1. Labai įdomus projektas. Linkiu sekmės.
    Tik prašau atsisakykite vietovardžių transkribavimo. (kur gi kas nors galės surasti “Ajova”?)
    Čia užsilikęs paprotys nuo Sovietinių laiku kai kirilica rašant rekėjo transkribuoti. Jeigu norim kad kiti gerbtų mūsų vietovardžių rašybą tai turėtumėm taip pat gerbti jų.

    • Dėkui už komentarą.

      Šiuo metu netranskribuotus vietovardžius galima aptikti angliškoje versijoje, o kai kuriais atvejais ir lietuviškoje laužtiniuose skliaustuose. Tuo tarpu transkribuoti į lietuvių kalbą variantai pakankamai populiarūs, kad jų taip pat būtų ieškoma, ypač daugelio kurių didesnių miestų (Čikaga, Niujorkas, Bostonas, Filadelfija, Vašingtonas, Baltimorė ir t.t.) bei valstijų. Jie yra ir oficialiai patvirtinti vietovardžių žodynuose.

      Nors transkribavimas tapo visuotinis Sovietų okupacijos metu, jis tikrai neatsirado tuomet, o kai kuriuose senesniuose šaltinuose galima aptikti netgi dar labiau sulietuvintas versijas (pvz. “Naujorkas” vietoje “Niujorkas”). Tai smarkiai susiję su lietuvių kalbos ypatybėmis. Būtent, lietuvių kalba visada tariama kaip ir rašoma, priešingai nei anglų kalba. Todėl transkripcija į anglų kalbą būtų netgi neįmanoma (nes anglų k. nėra tiesioginio visuotinio ryšio tarp raidės ir garso). Taip pat lietuvių kalboje yra linksniai, dėl ko yra reikalinga pridėti galūnes, nes kitaip išnyksta dalis prasmės (anglų kalboje, tuo tarpu, tas pats išreiškiama prielinksniais – pvz. “of New York” – “Niujorko”).

      Atkreiptinas dėmesys, kad nors sakoma, kad, tarkime, tiek lietuviai tiek anglai rašo lotynų raidynu, tai nėra ta pati rašto sistema – lietuviški ir angliški jos variantai skiriasi, skiriasi dalis raidžių, skiriasi kitų raidžių tarimas. O visgi tarimas yra svarbiausias dalykas – rašyba atsirado vėliau tarimui užrašyti. Todėl nemanau, kad žodžio perrašymas iš angliško lotynų rašto varianto į lietuvišką lietuviškame tekste yra kažkokia nepagarba vietovardžiui – lygiai, kaip nėra nepagarba ir perrašymas į lietuvių raidyną iš tos pačios kirilikos ar arabų rašto.

      Priešingai – kiek pastebėjau, daliai žiniasklaidos pradėjus netranskribuoti pavardžių ar vietovardžių, arba nurašyti anglišką transkripciją, prasidėjo ir neteisingi tarimai. Tarkime, teko girdėti per televiziją sakant buvusio Venesuelos prezidento pavardę “Chavesas”, o ne “Čavesas” ir pan. Manau, tai didesnė nepagarba kalbai – bet netraskribuojant jos neįmanoma išvengti, nes juk niekas negali žinoti visų kalbų tarimo taisyklių, todėl skaitydamas dažnas nežinos, kaip reikia tarti.

      Beje, atkreiptinas dėmesys, kad angliškai taip pat kai kurie vietovardžiai rašomi (ir net tariami) kitaip, nei originalo kalba, pvz. “Warsaw”, “Moscow”, “Cologne”, “Nuremberg”, “Finland” ir pan. – tiesiog, jų gerokai mažiau, nei lietuvių kalboje.

  2. Lithuanians ran for their lives from the Russians during World War 2, and from the German Army and the SS. Lithuanians never thought in their wildest nightmares that the United States would develop an entity called D.C.F. (Dept. of Children and Families) who operates under the guise of protecting neglected and abused children.On the Contrary, D.C.F. actually destroys bot children and families. D.C.F.
    psychologically and emotionally rapes children and families and permanantly traumatizes them just to obtain federal funding bonuses D.C.F. receives for each family that D.C.F. successfully destroys.
    Massachusetts D.C.F. employees are the most notorious perpetrators in comparison to D.C.F. of other states in the USA. Massachusetts D.C.F., mainly the Worcester, MA. office-these employees routinely commit perjury in court, file false police complaints, Fabricate their own reports, and use their power to place as many children on psychotropic drugs. The also sexually abuse young virgins by falsely claiming that they are sexually active and then order full gynelogical exams, HIV tests, Dangerous HPV vaccinations and PAP smears.
    These D.C.F. workers choose to live in their own matrix and fail to acknowledge the spiritual world in which we truly live.Please pray for the conversion of all D.C.F. employees.

  3. Never sign anything from DCF without the direct advice of a PAID lawyer, Many court-appointed lawyers are part of this gov’t “cash for kids” child trafficking ring. If you sign a safety plan, you are admitting that your home and/or your children are not safe.
    when you sign a service plan, you are admitting that you are guilty of abuse and/or neglect. YOU ARE SIGNING NOT ONLY A CONTRACT, BUT YOU ARE SIGNING AN ADMISSION OF GUILT, even though there is no indication on their paperwork that you are actually signing a contract. If DCF has custody of your child, always refer to your children as your “real property” wich was stolen from you and you demand that your property be returned to you immediately and without delay.
    Never let dcf in your home unless warranted. By letting them in your home you give them an opportunity to say that your home is a mess, untidy, that they saw alcohol, and medications visible and within reach of child, no child locks on cabinets, open windows where a child could fall out, etc. DCF shows up at your door for only one reason, to find evidence that you are an unfit parent and that your home is not safe for a child, that you dont speak appropriately to your child, etc.
    If your home is neat and tidy and you are an excellent mom then many DCF investigators and social workers will simply fabricate evidence to use against you in court. 90% of DCF workers and investigators are corrupt-rotten to the core. They live in their own matrix and choose to ignore the spiritual realm in which we all truly live. Yes there are some DCF employees who care about children and families. Do you really want to play Russian roulette with your children and family by letting a DCF employee into your home? If they had enough evidence to kidnap your child, they would have shown up with a court order and police. the fact that the social worker showed up alone indicates they don’t have enough evidence to commit a court ordered kidnapping of your child.
    Whenever DCF shows up at your door without a warrant, give them your lawyers business card and tell The dcf worker to contact your lawyer. If you are low income, jobless, on disability, or live in low income housing or a poor neighborhood, DCF will prey on you upon the first complaint they receive. once DCF has custody of your child, it is highly possible that your child will suffer irrepairable
    emotional and psychological harm of which no amount of intensive trauma therapy can fix.
    Once DCF obtains custody , they will attempt to alienate you from your child, and say nasty things about you to your child.
    My investigation of DCF employees in Worcester, MA. office indicates that some of these workers had suffered traumatic childhoods including rape and incest and therefore prey on children in vengeance for their own destroyed childhood.
    A high percentage of Worcester, MA. DCF workers are not married, have no children and haven’t got the slightest clue about childcare and what it takes to be a good parent.
    Be relentless in continuously contacting your state representatives, state Senators and governor by telephone. Only use email and U.S. mail as a last option.Also Write a letter to President Trump via Certified U.S. Mail with return receipt.
    Don’t ever give up fighting for your child. You are your childs lifeline.
    Corrupt Worcester, MA. DCF workers have sold their soul to the Devil.
    There is nothing worse that a human can do than to hurt a child or to make a decision that results in the harm of a child.
    In the words of Jesus, it would be better if that person would hang a millstone around their own neck and be tossed into the ocean than for that person to hurt a child.
    Please pray for the conversion of all D.C.F. workers in the United States.

    • Indeed, the government-intervention in child-rearing decisions seems to grow extremely common in the Western world, which often baffles Lithuanian diaspora as they are used to much more libertarian child-raising policies in Lithuania itself. Such stories (when they happen to Lithuanian emigrants) tend to be well-publicised in the Lithuanian media. We have an overview of the cases in Western Europe at our other site: http://www.truelithuania.com/tensions-peak-as-norway-takes-lithuanian-children-5626 . In the USA, however, there still seems to be less authoritarianism in this; for example, home-schooling is allowed, whereas home-schooling is generally banned in the Western European countries and even private teaching Lithuanian language was said to have become a reason for taking the child away by the authorities in Norway (as supposedly that is a too big load of education and only the state-school decides the correct load).


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