Two pilots, Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas, tried in 1933 to beat Charles Lindberg’s non-stop distance record across the Atlantic by flying from New York City to Lithuania. Both were American citizens but were born in Lithuania in 1896.
Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea, became an independent state in 1918, at the end of WWI, and the pilots dedicated their flight to young Lithuania.
Their single-engine plane, Lituanica, successfully flew 4,000 miles, but crashed in Poland, 400 miles short of its destination. Both pilots were killed.
This memorial, located at Union Avenue, Stagg and Hewes Streets, was erected by the Lithuanians of Greater New York in 1957. It consists of a marble flagstaff base with an aluminum relief plaque of the two pilots. The plaque was sculpted by Bruno Mankowski, who also carved nine of the 23 relief busts of historic lawmakers for the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington D.C.
For more Lithuanian culture in our community there is the Annunciation Church (sister church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) on 65-67 Havemeyer Street. Their 10 a.m. Sunday mass is in Lithuanian.
Fun Fact: The Lituanica took off on its flight across the Atlantic from the Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn.