The Order of the Cross of Vytis is 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 tragic events of January 13, 1991 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, this Order is conferred on volunteer soldiers of the armed resistance and participants of non-violence 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 - the Day of the Lithuanian Army, is also a holiday in honour of the Order of the Cross of Vytis.
This Order may be conferred on the servicemen of the armed forces, volunteer soldiers and other citizens of the Republic of Lithuania. By way of exception foreign nationals may be also awarded this Order. This distinction may be also awarded posthumously to those who performed heroic acts.
From 1991 through 2000 the Order of the Cross of Vytis was conferred on 396 persons, of which 56 persons were awarded the 1st Class Order, 30 persons - the 2nd Class, 76 persons - the 3rd Class, 144 persons - the 4th Class and 91 person - the 5th Class.
In 1991, the first insignia of the Order of the Cross of Vytis were made by artist Jonusauskas. Later, they were produced at the Vilnius Artworks' Association. At present the badges of the Order are struck at the Mint of Lithuania and Company "Gurtana". Up to 1996, the ribbon for the Order was manufactured at the Lithuanian Textiles Institute and since then it has been made at the workshops of the Danish Company "Morch & Sons". In 1992, the Company "Arthus Bertrand" in Paris, France produced several dozens of badges of the 4th and 5th Class of the Order.