A long road to Freedom was the headline detailing the celebration of the 32nd Lithuanian Independence Day in the small town of Bridgetown, south of Perth in 1950. Lithuanians as well as other new migrants were employed in a range of jobs in the surrounding area, undertaking their compulsory two-year contract.
Newly married couple, Birutė and Jurgis residing in Bridgetown felt that a commemoration of some sort was in order. There were a few Lithuanians families at that time in Bridgetown, but more were needed for a worthy celebration. Lithuanians from neighbouring towns of Nannup, Shannon River, Deanmill, Yornup, Manjimup, Jarrahwood and Pembertown were invited to attend. The anniversary was held in the convent Hall at Bridgetown, the sister prepared the food and a table was draped in a newly made yellow, green and red flag. Small flags from left over material were placed on the tables. Birutė kept the flag and it was used on many Adelaide events until it disappeared.
Jurgis quickly gathered a choir that sang several songs and both national anthems. Around fifty Lithuanians gathered, attending mass in the morning at St Brigid’s church before lunch. Zenonas Samuolis living in Nannup, delivered the main address detailing the history of Lithuania’s struggle for independence. Father Kelliher welcomed those gathered and said that as he had come from another country, he could sympathise of the loss homeland. Amongst those invited were Father Duffy from Manjimup, F. Leeman and G. A Lydiate, Manager of Deanmill and Jardee Timber Mills, Doctor N.S Williams, Officer in change of the Commonwealth Employment Officer W.L. Owens And H.O Moore, Chairman of Bridgetown Road Board.
Jurgis (George) Jonavicius spoke at the event, We chose Australia as our new homeland, came here because we knew that we will have freedom, democracy and prosperity. We are happy ones because we found a new homeland which accepted us as newcomers as their own fellow – Australians and is giving us freedom, democracy and independence.
Photo from Waymarking website