Club Lobbies for Lithuanian Independence: Letter to President Bush

Terry Baksys of Springfield and Richmond, Va. in national costume

The Lithuanian “Singing Revolution” 1987-91 had a galvanizing effect on local Lithuanian-Americans. After 439 joined to form Springfield’s new “Lithuanian-American Club,” the Club’s officers and members often lobbied in the court of public opinion for Lithuania’s independence.

They were especially active after Lithuania’s declaration of its restoration of sovereign rights on March 11, 1990, which resulted in a punishing economic blockage by the Soviet Union that went on for many months.

According to a State Journal-Register article by Tamara Browning dated April 3, 1990, Club president Tom Mack, on behalf of 550 members, sent a letter to President George H.W. Bush stating the Club’s position:

“Gorbachev’s contention that Lithuania is a Republic of the U.S.S.R., and therefore must follow legal procedures in order to declare its independence, cannot be based on the illegal and forced annexation of 1939.

“Lithuania did not vote nor choose to join the U.S.S.R, and therefore is under no legal or political obligation to remain under the control of the U.S.S.R,” the Club’s letter said.

The SJ-R article continued: “The local Lithuanian-American Club is urging all people of Lithuanian descent and their friends to call or write to President George Bush to strongly reaffirm the United States’ 1922 formal recognition of Lithuania as a free and independent nation. They’re encouraging people to write or phone their senators and congressmen to voice support for U.S. Rep. Dick Durbin’s House Concurrent Resolution 289.”

The July 22, 1990 issue of the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly newspaper, Catholic Times, reports that then-Congressman Durbin joined 300 local Lithuanian-Americans and their supporters to rally for Lithuania on the steps of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Springfield. The same article mentions that members of Springfield’s Lithuanian-American Club “also sent economic aid to be used for medicine during the (Soviet) embargo.”

Club members Julia Wisnosky, Tom Mack and Regina (Abramakis) Buedel were photographed for the article. Club Directors named in the article were: Joe Turasky, vice-president, Mary Chepulis, secretary, Monty Yanor, treasurer, and the following board members: Frances Candioto, Fritzi Cartwright, Frank Tureskis, Vera Stasukinas, Rita Kupris, and Danute Kuprenas Durbin.

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