VILNIUS - Lithuania celebrated on Monday the Statehood Day, or King Mindaugas Coronation Day, with official ceremonies, concerts and other festivities that culminated in the traditional singing of the national anthem all over the country and abroad.
Lithuania on July 6 commemorates the coronation in 1253 of Mindaugas as the first and only king of Lithuania. The day been officially celebrated as the Statehood Day since 1990 when the country regained its independence after almost 50 years of Soviet occupation.
President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday that King Mindaugas "gave a symbolic start to the State of Lithuania and opened the door to Europe".
"It is because of his efforts that a small country by the rivers of Nemunas and Neris entered Western civilization as an independent actor – and continues to be there to this day," Nauseda said at a flag-raising ceremony in Daukanto Square in front of the Presidential Palace.
"Despite many historical upheavals, we kept a strong hold on national identity," he said. "We have always been and we will continue to be open to those who love freedom and respect the laws of our country."
The program of celebrations included concerts and exhibitions in many municipalities.
As part of the celebration in Daukanto Square at noon, the Honorary Guard of the Lithuanian Armed Forces performed a rendition of On Fire by The Roop, the winner of the national Eurovision song contest, and NATO's air policing fighter jets flew over the capital to congratulate the nation on the Statehood Day.
People all over Lithuania and members of expatriate communities gathered to sing the national anthem at 9 p.m. Vilnius time.