On 26 July 2019, the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda commissioned the Class 26 of graduates of General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania (MAL) in Simono Daukanto Square, Vilnius. A total of 50 cadets, including 41 males and 9 females, received the rank of Second Lieutenant. The newly-commissioned officers took an oath to loyally serve the Republic of Lithuania and do not spare any effort and life to defend Homeland, its freedom and independence.
In his address to the second lieutenants, the Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis noted that the MAL is an exceptional school of higher education. “I hope that now, having graduated from the MAL, you have gained much more than just a military rank and enter professional military service with comprehensive knowledge and skills. Also, you have become responsible citizens and patriots of your country,” said the Minister.
“Our strength is not weapons or equipment. It is well-trained, motivated and patriotic servicemen. The growing Lithuanian Armed Forces need vigorous professional junior commanders, therefore, I look to this formation with delight and hope,” said the Chief of Defence Major General Valdemaras Rupšys. He wished the officers to meet challenges with courage and cherish the freedom fighters’ values.
The MAL Commandant Colonel Juozas Kačergius highlighted that the graduates have come a long way from school-leavers to the MAL graduates holding a Bachelor’s diplomas and the insignias of Second Lieutenant of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. “It is a very difficult path that less motivated school-leavers lacking leadership skills find it impossible to take,” said the Commandant. “Having become cadets, they have successfully overcome the banality of daily routine, experienced the joy of science, mastered the features of military training and today they stand in front of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Minister of National Defence and Chief of Defence. They have already won their first battle and are ready to command and lead others to victories!”
Continuing the time-honoured tradition, the best graduated was awarded for the best academic achievements. This year, the award went to Liveta Aleksaitė for an excellent role model of a commander-leader to other cadets, great knowledge of and respect for the Lithuanian military traditions, professional bearing and relentlessly pursuing her goal to honourably serve Lithuania.
As a military symbol of honour, Minister Karoblis awarded a souvenir sword to the best graduate, while Canberra Lithuanian Community Association presented a financial award.
The ceremony was honoured by the presence of the Commander of the Lithuanian Land Force Brigadier General Raimundas Vaikšnoras, authorities of the Ministry of National Defence and Lithuanian Armed Forces, foreign defence attachés, members of the Union of Founding Volunteers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, junior riflemen, former commandants of the MAL, representatives of higher education institutions, honourable reserve and retired officers, relatives and other guests.
Minister Karoblis, Commandant Colonel Kačergius and Vice-Rector Dr. Mantas Bileišis awarded the graduates the Bachelor’s diplomas in Management of Defence and Security Institutions (24), International Relations (21) and Management of Modern Defence Technologies (5). The graduates also underwent military training and received infantry platoon commander qualification along with graduation badges and rings. All the junior officers will join the Lithuanian Land Force.
The Commandant awarded Mikalojus Dudys and Pijus Vosylius for the best academic achievements throughout the four years of studies, the best evaluations of the Bachelor’s theses, duly performed duties and other criteria, whereas the Chief of the Department of Military Studies Colonel Darius Vaicikauskas presented their relatives with national flags for raising patriotic and decent citizens and thus strengthening national security.
During the musical part of the ceremony, the performances were given by the choir Kariūnas (Cadet) conducted by Linas Balandis along with singer Ieva Skorubstaitė and accordionist Eglė Ona Bartkevičiūtė.
By tradition, the ceremony was finalized with the Class 26 planting an oak tree in the courtyard of the MAL.
Photo credit: G. Maksimovicz, Ministry of National Defence