Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Lithuanian Museum Review, July-September 2006, Issue 215. Pp. 12-13.
His image was on a coin, a banknote, and stamps. Yet he has been forgotten here in a Mausoleum tucked away in a Catholic Cemetery east of Cleveland, Ohio.
His body has already been moved once since his death, from Knollwood Cemetery Mausoleum in Cleveland, in 1975. But his remains haven’t been taken back to Lithuania since independence was restored, like those of his counterpart, President Kazys Grinius, were. So his remains lay here far, far away from the country he loved and served.
He was Antanas Smetona (1874-1944), the first and fourth President of the Republic of Lithuania. A writer and journalist by profession, Smetona was active in the Lithuanian National Movement. He was a member of the Lithuanian National Council and one of the signers of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence in 1918. He was a member of the Nationalist Party, and his authoritative regime was in power until the 1940 Soviet invasion. Smetona was able to successfully flee Lithuania when the USSR invaded the country on June 15, 1940, being the only President to do so from among the three Baltic Republics.
Smetona eventually was allowed to settle in the United States as a private citizen, and delivered speeches on national radio and to communities to promote Lithuanian independence. His untimely death occurred from smoke inhalation as a result of a fire at his Cleveland home on January 9, 1944.
President Antanas Smetona is interred in the Crucifixion Mausoleum in All Souls Cemetery, located at 10366 (office at 103400) Chardon Road, Chardon Township, (Geauga County) Ohio 44024. (440) 286-7151. The Mausoleum is located in Section 23, and Smetona’s crypt is No. 103. His wife Sofija (1885-1968) is interred next to him on the right. For the official geographic record, the GPS location of this Mausoleum is: North 41 degrees, 35 minutes, 600 seconds by West 081 degrees, 16 minutes, 208 seconds.
Recently, Museum member Lou Merkys paid a visit to Smetona’s resting place and took several photographs at the site, which we are sharing with our readers. The Mausoleum is filled with many flowers that have been placed on the faceplates of vaults of the deceased, but no flowers have been placed on those of the Smetonas.
Smetona and his wife are however, listed on the popular www.findagrave.com website. Just type in “Antanas Smetona” in the search engine, and choose “Ohio” as the state. On Findagrave, you may leave “virtual flowers” and notes, as well as view several photographs of this prominent Lithuanian leader of the early 20th century. In this way his memory can be perpetuated on the internet for those who wish to learn more about the role of President Antanas Smetona in Lithuanian history.
The 1938 10 litu banknote features a vignette of President Antanas Smetona, on the left.
The 1938 10 litu commemorative silver coin depicts Smetona on the obverse.
The simple faceplate of the crypt of President Antanas Smetona in the Crucifixion Mausoleum in All Souls Cemetery east of Cleveland. Photo by Lou Merkys.
The faceplate of the crypt of Sofija Smetona. Photo by Lou Merkys.
Flowers line the vaults of numerous crypts in the Crucifixion Mausoleum, but not at the Smetonas. Photo by Lou Merkys.
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic