On 1 January 2016, Vilnius residents and guests will be able to attend a solemn ceremony on Gediminas Tower to mark the day in 1919 when the Lithuanian tricolour flag used today was first flown.
The flag-raising ceremony on Gediminas Tower in 2014
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

In 1919, Kazys Škirpa, a commander who had helped defend Vilnius during Lithuania's fight for independence after WWI, raised the flag together with a squad of military volunteers. Unfortunately, the flag did not fly for long – it was torn down on 6 January by supporters of Lucjan Żeligowski, who formed the Republic of Central Lithuania. This republic, which included Vilnius and the surrounding southern region of Lithuania, was soon annexed by Poland.

At the commemoration ceremony, servicemen from the Honour Guard Company will lower the flag that flew in 2015 and hoist a new one, accompanied by the national anthem and three gun salvoes - for Lithuania, Vilnius, and the Lithuanian flag.

The flag flown on Gediminas Tower during the previous year is traditionally transferred to a Lithuanian school. The 2015 flag will be given to Simono Daukanto Gymnasium in Papilė (Akmenė distr.), which distinguished itself in civic and national education. The school is home to an active Riflemen Company and it also has raised the largest number of volunteers who chose to do their mandatory military service this year.

The ceremony will be attended by Speaker of the Seimas Loreta Graužinienė, Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, servicemen of the National Armed Forces, representatives of various community organizations, and participants in the fight for Lithuanian freedom.

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