Following the annual tradition, the Ministry of National Defence and the Lithuanian Armed Forces say “We Are You!” on the third weekend of May and invite to enjoy its largest public event, Partisan Honouring, Public and Military Unity Day. This year the Lithuanian Armed Forces meets the public in Klaipėda, Cruise Ship Terminal and the historical part of the city, the Klaipėda Castle and Bastion Complex. The day of celebrations will culminate in a 9 km foot march in commemoration of Lithuanian partisans along the paths of the Sword Territorial Unit of Žemaičiai Partisan District in Darbėnai Subdistrict (Kretinga region municipality).
Partisan Honouring, Public and Military Unity Day in Klaipėda on May 20 will begin with a Holy Mass celebrated in tribute to partisans and freedom fighters and their sacrifice. Later on that day 30 senior pupils and teachers from according Lithuania will compete for the title of the best proficiency in Lithuanian Armed Forces and military history in the final of the 28th “What Do You Know About the Lithuanian Armed Forces“ contest for the first time held as one of Partisan Honouring, Public and Military Unity Day events. Pupils will have to demonstrate proficiency on such topics as the Lithuanian defence and security policy, Lithuanian Armed Forces and its history, major events and outstanding figures.
The part of events at the Klaipėda Cruise Ship Terminal will open with an oath of the Junior Officer Command Training (JOCT) participants and cadets of the Lithuanian Maritime Academy. At around noon the festival audience will be greeted by a flyover by NATO fighter aircraft, the flag of Lithuania will be hoisted. The Vidar-class Jotvingis (N42) command and supply ship moored at the Terminal will provide the main stage for the event expected to be attended by President of the Republic of Lithuania, Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas, Chief of Defence Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys nad the new Mayor of Klaipėda Arvydas Vaitkus. A minute of silence, Honour Guard Company performance and tribute rounds will honour the idea of restoration and preservation of freedom.
The main highlight of the day will be an enactment of a military operation at the Klaipėda Cruise Ship Terminal: an allegedly calling in ship is detained by a joint force of the Lithuanian Navy, Air Force and the Special Operations Forces. Throughout the event, a military village will wait for visitors, alongside a fair of Klaipėda Region craftsmen and merchants. Visitors will be able to view military equipment and vehicles of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and NATO Allies, such as a Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicle, PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle JLTV, Javelin anti-armor missile system, U.S. Abrams tank, NASAMS medium-range air defence systems. Fans of history will be treated to a reconstructed 14th c. armor and weaponry set presented by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas Headquarters and a visual demonstration of the challenges once faced by the Lithuanian resistance against the occupiers presented by members of Grenadier military-historical reconstruction club members dressed in partisan uniforms in an improvised bunker.
Another highlight of the event is a race of “Viking boats” in Danė River. In a match originating in Finland, 8 teams comprising Lithuanian and Allied troops, cadets of the Lithuanian Maritime Academy and Klaipėda residents and guests will compete in boats decorated with heads of whipsnakes and combat Viking shields. The first day of the celebration will close off with a concert of the Navy Band aboard LNS Sūduvis.
On Sunday, May 21, everyone interested in Lithuania’s partisan past wil be invited to take a 9 km foot march along the paths of the Sword Territorial Unit of Žemaičiai Partisan District in Darbėnai Subdistrict (Kretinga region municipality). It will literally follow in the footsteps of guerilla fighting sites and invite to see unique re-enactments of partisan fights and installations. The marchers will be met by staff of Jurbarkas Culture Centre dressed as eight partisan commanders who were the signatories of the February 16, 1949, Council of the Movement of the Struggle for Freedom of Lithuania (LLKS) Declaration of Independence. The Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania will invite to see a light installation in a military truck shedding light on the personalities of partisans, their daily routine and ideas. Marchers will be treated to military food and Oxalis soup made according an authentic partisan recipe, and a partisan song festival by pupils of Darbėnai High School.
Public support is a huge motivation to the military. Such community engagement events raise public awareness about the Lithuanian Armed Forces and NATO activities in Lithuania and about a significant portion of the society that exists for the benefit of the state and its nation.