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Honoring a Legacy of Peace in Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania - UPF-Lithuania held a Festival of Ascension and Unity on September 30 to commemorate the lives of four people who have contributed toward godly peace and unification in Lithuania, and have now passed on to the spirit world.

After reading excerpts of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's speech about the Memorial Festival of Ascension and Unity, Mr. Raimondas Urbonas cited the significance of the four persons commemorated at this event:

 

Dr. Medardas Cobotas was a charter member of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace in Lithuania, which later became the Universal Peace Federation. He became an Ambassador for Peace and proclaimed the rights of all people to peace and freedom endowed by God. Dr. Cobotas was a signer of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. That declaration was challenged on January 13, 1991, when Soviet military forces assaulted the national television tower and radio station in Vilnius, leaving 13 Lithuanians dead. Dr. Cobotas was a medical doctor, specializing in geriatrics and gerontology and established the Third Age University for the ongoing education of adults, particularly those past their 50s. He was a great believer in on-going education.

Mrs. Marta Cobotiene, Dr. Cobotas’ wife of more than 50 years, supported her husband throughout his life as a public advocate of freedom of conscience and the independence of Lithuania. Mrs. Cobotiene had to endure the extreme stress of many uncertain days when the people of Lithuania were asserting their claim for independence from the Soviet Union. She was also a medical doctor, and worked for the health of the people throughout her life. [In attendance at this event were Dr. and Mrs. Cobotas’ eldest son and his wife.]

Mr. Adomas Asanavicius was a Tartar Muslim, descended from the Tartars who immigrated to Lithuania more than five centuries ago to serve as the protective security forces for the grand duke of Lithuania. Though remaining a small community of about 4,000 people in Lithuania, this group has remained faithful and loyal to Lithuania‘s health and welfare. Mr. Asanavicius was a long-time supporter of the ideals of the UPF, including religious tolerance and patriotism, love of one‘s nation and people. One of Mr. Asanavicius’ nieces was among the 13 people martyred during the Soviet assault on Lithuania in January 1991.

Also honored was Hye-young Kim, wife of Rev. Eui-dong Lee, the Korean senior advisers of UPF-Lithuania. Mrs. Lee had first come to Lithuania with Rev. Lee in the autumn of 1996. To honor her love for Lithuania and the people of this nation, her husband and one of their sons came from Korea to participate in this memorial service.

Also in attendance were seven UPF Ambassadors for Peace along with friends and relatives.

The program opened with songs and a reading. Then the director of UPF-Lithuania, Mr. Gunnard Z. Johnston, explained the meaning of this event, emphasizing the celebration of people's lives. It was serious but also deeply joyful experience for all, with special thanks expressed by the son of Dr. and Mrs. Cobotas for the honors bestowed on both his parents.

After the official portion of the festival, there was a dinner and an opportunity for people to share their thoughts and feelings about these four notable persons. During and after dinner, music was provided by several of the Unificationist community, stimulating further musical contributions from those in attendance. The dinner itself was a sampling of not only Lithuanian but also Korean food, prepared by one of the Korean guests, a close friend of Mrs. Lee.

The evening concluded with several favorite Lithuanian and Korean folk songs, much to the delight of all. It was a celebratory festival for the eternal life of the four ascended persons, wrapped within the love for God and Lithuania. It was a blessed event for all.