PABRADE, Lithuania – Troopers from 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment started their day Jan. 13, 2021, by participating in a Lithuanian tradition that celebrates their freedom and honors those who came together to defend their nation and way of life from the Soviet Union.
On this day 30 years ago, Soviet soldiers attempted to seize a national broadcast tower in Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius. The act was meant to signify the reinstitution of the Soviet Union’s constitution in Lithuania. Unarmed civilians from across the city marched as one to the parliament building to act as a human shield. Before the day was done, 14 civilians were killed and more than 500 more were injured.
On Jan. 13, 1991, the people of Lithuania reestablished their independence.
Troopers of 2-8 Cav. Reg. assembled in the morning as a small white candle was lit in remembrance of the resistance and a moment of silence was observed to honor the men and women who were injured or killed.
“Freedom Defender’s Day is a day of celebration and remembrance to honor those Lithuanians who stood proudly to defend their freedom against Soviet aggression,” said Capt. Christopher Hooks, an S2 officer for 2-8 Cav. Reg. “To me, it’s an opportunity to honor courage displayed in the face of overwhelming odds in defense of freedom and democratic values.”
Hooks, along with his fellow unit members, participated in the ceremony at the Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania, as citizens across the country lit small white candles and placed them in their windowsills to remember the freedom defenders.
“A lot of us were excited to celebrate with [Lithuania] for their independence,” said Pvt. Noah Brand, a fire support specialist with 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery Regiment currently attached to 2-8 Cav. Reg.. “This is my first deployment and its interesting to see the culture here.”
Though 2-8 Cav. Reg. Troopers have not fought foreign aggressors on Lithuanian soil, as Soldiers they understand the will to fight for freedom and the pains of losing a fellow warrior.
“The ceremony was small but very nice,” said 2nd Lt. Daniel Burggraf, a 2-8 Cav. Reg. battle captain. “It was very meaningful.”