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UNA-Lithuania held “’our earth is alive’ concert to benefit hard-of-hearing children at St John’s Church

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UNA-Lithuania held “’our earth is alive’ concert to benefit hard-of-hearing children at St John’s Church with Jurate Landsbergyte (organ), Vytautas Oskinis (flute) and Diemante Merkeviciute (violin)

Shown here on the left are several performers (singers) from the Gaubijos Gimnazijos mokytajo dainos teatro. Also pictured are Zilvinas Radavicius, historian, Jurate Landsbergyte, internationally acclaimed organist/pianist, and Executive Director of the United Nationsz Association of Lithuania (UNA-Lithuania) and Gitana Merkeliene, journalist, who read her original poems at the recent benefit concert in Vilnius. Photo: Marija Markina

Shown here on the left are several performers (singers) from the Gaubijos Gimnazijos mokytajo dainos teatro. Also pictured are Zilvinas Radavicius, historian, Jurate Landsbergyte, internationally acclaimed organist/pianist, and Executive Director of the United Nationsz Association of Lithuania (UNA-Lithuania) and Gitana Merkeliene, journalist, who read her original poems at the recent benefit concert in Vilnius. Photo: Marija Markina

 

“Our earth is alive” (Gyva musu Zeme) is the way Lithuanians described the recent concert to benefit children with hearing disabilities, which was organized by Jurate Landsbergyte. Executive Director, United Nations Association of Lithuania (UNA-Lithuania) in cooperation with Pagava at St. John’s Church in Vilnius.

As explained by the organizers of the event, “it means that we think about others, and another generation. It means that the art (music, songs, and poetry) helps to express our relationship with nature and people.”

Earth Day on the Equinox was kicked off at UN Headquarters in New York on March 20 at exactly 6:45PM EDT.

In Kaunas, Father Kestutis rang bells at Vytautas Magnus Church on March 20 to mark the occasion, as well.

In addition, Lithuania’s tribute to the earth continued on March 27, with a benefit concert to support the work of Pagava and to help families with children who are hard-of-hearing.

The program also featured the Teachers Song Theater from the Gabaija gymnasium, musical performances by children with hearing disabilities, and interpretation was provided by sign language specialists.

On this special day to salute the equinox, UNA-Lithuania is saying, “let’s dive into the sound of music, poetry, and songs, and let’s help those people who need our help to hear those sounds.”

The funds raised during the concert at St. John’s Church in Vilnius, are being used to purchase hearing aids for hearing impaired children. Special events can kick off in both New York and Vilnius on March 20; continue throughout March 27, as was the case in Vilnius, Lithuania. The possibilities are endless, but it begins with Earth Day on the Equinox (March 20-21).

As stated in the book, “EARTH DAY. VISION FOR PEACE, JUSTICE AND EARTH CARE. MY LIFE AND THOUGHT AT AGE 96” written by John McConnell , and edited by John C. Munday, Jr.,”Mr. McConnell’s idea was for an Earth Day on the spring equinox, and Earth Day was first celebrated on the spring equinox, March 20, 1970, in San Francisco and other cities (one month before the first April 22 celebration.)

The equinox Earth Day continues to be celebrated in various places, including a Peace Bell ceremony at the United Nations in New York.

The April 22 date was selected by Senator Gaylord Nelson and supporters, and they took the name Earth Day from John McConnell UNESCO announcement in September 1969 without attribution. “

This article, in particular, focuses attention on the “Our Earth is alive” concert in Vilnius, Earth Day on the Equinox celebrations at the United Nations in New York, and the role that Vytautas Landsbergis has played in initiating world Earth Day events in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Environment deserves recognition, too, for their detailed reports on Earth Day activities in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on March 20-21.

Noteworthy, too, are the efforts of non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations Association of Lithuania (UNA-Lithuania), a member of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) with over 100 UNAs around the world.

Through their efforts, more young Lithuanians are becoming global citizens. Jurgita Pilypaityte at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas who attended the March 27 concert in Vilnius organized by UNA-Lithuania in cooperation with Pagava, informed us that the UN Lithuania Student Club at the university is planning to organize special events, discussions, and conferences in the months ahead.

 

 Shown here is Lithuanian journalist Gitana Merkeliene during the reading of her poems at St. John’s Church in Vilnius. Standing next to Gitana on the right is Arunas Saukecas, sign language interpreter (translator) at the event. In addition, Gitana read the poetry selected by Edmondas Atkociunas, as well. Photo by Marija Markina


Shown here is Lithuanian journalist Gitana Merkeliene during the reading of her poems at St. John’s Church in Vilnius. Standing next to Gitana on the right is Arunas Saukecas, sign language interpreter (translator) at the event. In addition, Gitana read the poetry selected by Edmondas Atkociunas, as well. Photo by Marija Markina

 

 

At UN Headquarters in New York, the ringing of the UN Peace Bell, initiated by John McConnell, the founder of Earth Day, in cooperation with UN Secretary-General U Thant, first rang at a Peace Bell ceremony on March 21, 1971, and this tradition has continued for 45 consecutive years at UN Headquarters.

Shown here is UN Secretary-General U Thant making a statement before ringing the Peace Belln at United Nations on March 21, 1971. The ringing of the bell constituted the highlight of a ceremony proclaiming March 21 as Earth Day. Among those invited to attend were the Permanent Representative of Japan and the United States, the Observer of the Holy See, Monsignor Alberto Giovannetti, a group of children representing several nationalities from the United Nations International School, United Nations Correspondents, and Secretariat officials. UN Photo/Teddy Chen

Shown here is UN Secretary-General U Thant making a statement before ringing the Peace Belln at United Nations on March 21, 1971. The ringing of the bell constituted the highlight of a ceremony proclaiming March 21 as Earth Day. Among those invited to attend were the Permanent Representative of Japan and the United States, the Observer of the Holy See, Monsignor Alberto Giovannetti, a group of children representing several nationalities from the United Nations International School, United Nations Correspondents, and Secretariat officials.
UN Photo/Teddy Chen

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY 2015 ON THE EQUINOX AT UN HEADQUARTERS IN NEW YORK This year, inspite of a heavy snowstorm in New York City on the evening of March 20, 2015, the recorded sounds of the UN Peace Bell could be heard in the North Lawn building at the United Nations at exactly 6:45PM EDT (equinox).

At the same exact moment, several bell ringers attending the UN ceremony, joined in the celebration by ringing many small silver bells at the moment of the spring equinox.

Shown here on the right is John McConnell together with his wife, Anna McConnell. Seen in the background, is the earth flag created by Mr. McConnell. Photo by Ann Charle

Shown here on the right is John McConnell together with his wife, Anna McConnell. Seen in the background, is the earth flag created by Mr. McConnell. Photo by Ann Charle

The bell is traditionally rung three times, followed by a Minute for Peace. This is a moment for silent prayer, meditation, or reflection.

The event was sponsored by Ana Persic, Science Specialist, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). UNESCO is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year along with the founding of the United Nations.

Kevin Sanders, Master of Ceremonies of the event, read messages from Thomas C. Dowd, President of the Earth Society Foundation, and quotes taken from John McConnell’s autobiography, “ EARTH DAY, VISION FOR PEACE, JUSTICE, AND EARTH CARE: MY LIFE AND THOUGHTS AT AGE 96: edited by John C. Munday, Jr. The message was: “Children are saying: Please save our planet.”

In addition, statements were made by Param Maragatham, youth representative of the ESF, Helen Garland, Chairperson, the Earth Society Foundation, Barbara Wolfe of Global Meditations, author, and activist, clean water advocate/ swimmer Christopher Swain, and Monica Getz, long-time supporter of the Earth Society Foundation.

A highlight of this year’s Earth Day on the Equinox ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York was “The Real Earth Day” Mural dedicated to John McConnell by Art Miles Master Muralists, Ceceilia Linayao and Minh Le. In the Salute to Joanne Tawfilis of Art Miles Mural Project, UNA-USA San Diego, presented mural No.4,641 as a tribute to Mr. McConnell .

 

“The Real Earth Day” mural was dedicated to John MConnell, the founder of Earth Day on the Equinox, by Art Miles Muralists Cecelia Linayai and Minh Le. Photo by Fouad Tawfilis

“The Real Earth Day” mural was dedicated to John MConnell, the founder of Earth Day on the Equinox, by Art Miles Muralists Cecelia Linayai and Minh Le. Photo by Fouad Tawfilis

Art Miles Murals has been a loyal supporter of the UN International Decade for the Culture of Peace, the Millennium Development and Sustainable Goals, and were honored at UNESCO Headquarters and the US Mission to UNESCO during May 2014 in Paris. Nearly 10 miles of five by twelve foot murals on canvas have been completed by more than l/2 million people from over 120 countries.

Uplifting songs, including “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, “It’s A Small, Small World” and “Ode to Joy” were performed by the young Tarumi Violinists under the direction of Yukako Tarumi, accompanied by Guillermo Vaisman on accordion. These goodwill ambassadors have performed for the Queen of Sweden, His Holiness John Paul II, and US President Bill Clinton at the White House, as well as UN Secretary-Generals Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, and Boutros-Boutros Ghali at UN Headquarters.

 

It is a tradition to ring the UN Peace Bell twice a year at UN Headquarters, once on the March equinox (March 20-21) , and a second time on the International Day of Peace (September 21). Shown here are the young Tarumi Violinists, under the direction of Yukako Tarumi, playing on the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2010. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

It is a tradition to ring the UN Peace Bell twice a year at UN Headquarters, once on the March equinox (March 20-21) , and a second time on the International Day of Peace (September 21). Shown here are the young Tarumi Violinists, under the direction of Yukako Tarumi, playing on the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2010.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

At this year’s UN event, outstanding young violinist, Edan Sabah, played an original composition called “Earth’s Fire” especially for the 45th anniversary of the UN Peace Bell Ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. In addition, he also performed “Curiosity” which he composed when he was only l6 years old, and has often performed together with other talented violinists such as Sai Matsumoto at the United Nations, as well. The Tarumi Violinists are well known for their work in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, and veteran rehabilitation centers.

 

LITHUANIA FIRST COMMEMORATED WORLD EARTH DAY ON MARCH 20, 1992 As stated in the “Bell Ringing Around the World” report presented by a Lithuanian-American in New York, “acccording to the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment, “March 20 is the day to celebrate Earth Day all over the world, the astronomical spring. It is a time of spring equinox when the duration of the day and night becomes equal with places around the globe. “

“ In l971, the United Nations had announced the spring equinox as the world’s Earth Day”. States the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment. “When Lithuania regained its independence, the initiative of Earth Day, John McConnell said in a letter to Vytautas Landsbergis, encouraging him to become patrons of the earth, and celebrate the spring equinox, which comes on March 20-21 in different places on the planet as world Earth Day.”

 

THE LITHUANIAN MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT HAS ORGANIZED CELEBRATIONS, CREATIVE PROMOTIONS, AND TRIPS TO PARK S ON EARTH DAY IN LITHUANIA.

In response to this appeal,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment stated that: “the then Lithuanian Supreme Council officially legalized Earth Day in Lithuania in 1992. On this day, the Ministry of Environment organizes celebrations, creative promotions, and trips to parks. The General State Forest Enterprises and all 42 forest enterprises, celebrate it by building new nesting boxes for birds on that day.” In addition, “the Environment Protection Committee of Seimas (Parliament) raises the Earth flag on Independence Square on that day.”

 

Pictured on the left is the internationally-known Lithuanian leader, Vytautas Landsbergis, Member of the European Parliament, greeting seven year old Klaudia M. Merkelis in front of St. Kazimieras Church in Vilnius, Lithuania. The photo was taken by Klaudia’s mother, Gitana Merkeliene, after attending a special event marking the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuanian independence. Photo: Gitana Merkeliene

Pictured on the left is the internationally-known Lithuanian leader, Vytautas Landsbergis, Member of the European Parliament, greeting seven year old Klaudia M. Merkelis in front of St. Kazimieras Church in Vilnius, Lithuania. The photo was taken by Klaudia’s mother, Gitana Merkeliene, after attending a special event marking the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuanian independence. Photo: Gitana Merkeliene

UNA-LITHUANIA COMBINED MUSIC, SONGS, AND POETRY AT MARCH CONCERT IN VILNIUS
In Lithuania, Jurate Landsbergyte, Executive Director of the United Nations Association of Lithuania, reported that she organized a special event at St. John’s Church combining music and poetry on March 27 in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

Earlier on March 20, arrangements for the bell ringing on March 20 by Father Kestutis was arranged by Izolda Geniusiene, author, translator, and wife of Algis Tomas Geniusas, Honorary President of UNA-Lithuania. Mr. Geniusas was the President of UNA-Lithuania for l7 years prior to Jurate Landsbergyte joining the organization as Executive Director in 2010.

 

VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS ISSUED AN EARTH DAY PROCLAMATION IN MARCH 1992 Usually , the Earth Flag created by John McConnell flies over Independence Square in Vilnius on the March Equinox.

Jurate’s father, Vytautas Landsbergis, issued an Earth Day Proclamation for the Republic of Lithuania in March 1992, as the President of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania, proclaiming March 20 to be Earth Day on the March equinox every year since. Members of the Parliamentary Committee of Environmental Protection raise the Earth Flag every year.

 

THE CHARITY EVENT AT ST. JOHN HAS DELIVERED MUSIC, SONGS, POETRY AND MORE.

At this year’s charity event on March 27 in Vilnius organized by UNA-Lithuania, internationally known Doctor of Arts organist/pianist, Jurate Landsbergyte. Vytautas Oskinis (flute), and Diemante Merkeviciute (violin) delivered heartfelt musical performances at St. John’s Church in Vilnjus to an enthusiastic audience. In addition, to round out this cultural program with a purpose, Gitana Merkeliene presented a moving poetry reading of her own poetry especially for the occasion, and read the poetry selected by Edmondas Atkociunas.

 

Shown is Vytautas Oskinis (flute) performing with Diemante Merkeviciute (violin) at St. John’s Church in the Old Town of Vilnius. Photo: Marija Markina.

Shown is Vytautas Oskinis (flute) performing with Diemante Merkeviciute (violin) at St. John’s Church in the Old Town of Vilnius. Photo: Marija Markina.

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

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