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On a hot summer Sunday in Washington D.C., representatives from JBANC and the embassies of Estonia and Lithuania paid respects at the gravesites of Sumner Welles and Loy Henderson.


The July 23 gathering was in commemoration of the 77th anniversary of the Welles Declaration and in honoring the diplomatic ties between the United States and the Baltic countries. Both notable American diplomats are buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in the Nation's Capital.


On July 23, 1940, Welles, as Acting Secretary of State issued a statement that became known as the Welles Declaration. Henderson had helped craft the document. As part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany agreed to allow the Soviet Union to take over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The declaration condemned those actions and stated Washington's refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Soviet rule in those countries. More than 50 countries later followed the U.S. in this position, in a policy that was in effect for half a century until the countries’ independence was restored.





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