Order of the Cross of Vytis

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Cross of Vytis.jpg
Antanas Smetona decorated with the interwar Cross of Vytis, alongside other decorations

The Order of the Cross of Vytis (Lithuanian: Vyčio Kryžiaus ordinas) is a Lithuanian Presidential Award conferred on people who heroically defended Lithuania’s freedom and independence.

History[edit]

The Order of the Cross of Vytis was the first state decoration of the pre-war Lithuania reinstated on 15 January 1991. The first to receive the First Class Order of the Cross of Vytis in the re-established Independent State of Lithuania were the victims of the 1991 January Events in Vilnius and Medininkai.

The Order of the Cross of Vytis is conferred on persons for acts of bravery performed in defending the freedom and independence of the Republic of Lithuania. According to the Law of 3 July 1997 on the Legal Status of Persons Who Participated in the Resistance to Occupations of 1940-1990 and on the Recognition of the Ranks of Volunteer Militaries Equivalent to the Ranks of the Land and Air Force Servicemen, the renewed Order "is conferred on volunteer soldiers of the armed resistance and participants of non-violent resistance to occupations."

After the restoration of independence, the leaders and members of the Senior Committee for a Free Lithuania and other outstanding representatives of the world Lithuanian community were honoured with the Order of the Cross of Vytis for services to the cause of restoration of the Independent State of Lithuania. The Order of the Cross of Vytis was also awarded to the officers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces for contributing to the withdrawal of the foreign army from Lithuania, and on the Lithuanian policemen and prosecutors for distinction in the fight against organised crime.

November 23 is a holiday in honour of the Order of the Cross of Vytis. The cross of Vytis is basically of the shape of one of the varieties of the Cross of Lorraine, namely the Cross of Jagiellons.

Order statute[edit]

Article 27. Bestowal of the Order of the Cross of Vytis[edit]

  • 1. The Order of the Cross of Vytis shall be:conferred on the persons who heroically defended Lithuania’s freedom and independence
    • 1) for extraordinary fortitude, clever conspiracy and command, endurance and self-sacrifice during the fights of armed and unarmed resistance to the 1940–1990 occupation, for Lithuania’s freedom and resistance or during the imprisonment and other repressions;
    • 2) for exceptional determination, self-sacrifice and loyalty to the duty during the restoration of the Statehood of Lithuania in 1988–1990;
    • 3) removing the threat to the Statehood of Lithuania or its integrity after 11 March 1990.
  • 2. This Order may also be conferred on the persons who suffered the death of a hero, as well as posthumously.
  • 3. The Order of the Cross of Vytis shall also be conferred upon for:
    • 1) extraordinary acts of bravery performed during the fights;
    • 2) especially clever command of fighting operations carried out by national defence units;
    • 3) exceptional courage and fortitude when defending the country’s territory, protecting the State border, important national, economic and other civil objects;
    • 4) exceptional bravery during the prevention of ecological disasters, natural disasters, accidents and distinction during other extraordinary circumstances when human life is in danger;
    • 5) extraordinary bravery and fortitude when preserving public order, peace and civil rights and freedoms;
    • 6) valour and self-sacrifice when carrying out State tasks in difficult circumstances and in the event of a great danger;
    • 7) scientific work especially significant for the national defence;
    • 8) especially significant projects related to the organisation of the national defence.

Article 28. Structure of the Order of the Cross of Vytis[edit]

  • 1. The Cross of Vytis shall be of five classes.
  • 2. Badges of the Order of the Cross of Vytis shall be as follows: the Grand Cross, the Grand Cross of Commander, the Cross of Commander, the Cross of Officer and the Cross of the Knight.
  • 3. The Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Vytis shall consist of:
    • 1) the Cross – silver, double, 50 mm high and 30 mm wide, covered with black enamel, its edges – with white enamel. In the middle of the obverse – white Vytis on the red shield. The crossed golden swords shall be behind the shield. On the reverse – inscription “For bravery“ and the year when the Order of the Cross of Vytis was instituted - 1919;
    • 2) the Star – silver, nine rays, 85 mm in diameter. In its centre – the reduced Order of the Cross of Vytis;
    • 3) the sash – red moiré, 100 mm wide (for women – 65 mm wide), with four black stripes on the edges.
  • 4. The Grand Cross of Commander of the Order of the Cross of Vytis shall consist of:
    • 1) the Cross – same as that of the Grand Cross;
    • 2) the Star – same as that of the Grand Cross;
    • 3) the ribbon – same as the sash of the Grand Cross, but 40 mm wide.
  • 5. The Cross of Commander of the Order of the Cross of Vytis shall consist of:
    • 1) the Cross – same as that of the Grand Cross;
    • 2) the ribbon – same as the sash of the Grand Cross, but 40 mm wide.
  • 6. the Cross of Officer of the Order of the Cross of Vytis shall consist of:
    • 1) the Cross – same as that of the Grand Cross, but 42 mm high and 25 mm wide;
    • 2) the breast ribbon – same as the sash of the Grand Cross, but 32 mm wide, with two silver oak twigs.
  • 7. the Cross of the Knight of the Order of the Cross of Vytis shall consist of:
    • 1) the Cross – same as that of the Grand Cross, but 42 mm high and 25 mm wide;
    • 2) the breast ribbon – same as the sash of the Grand Cross, but 32 mm wide, with one silver oak twig.

Recipients[edit]

References[edit]