On September 7th, 2009, in Third Lake, Illinois, a beautiful new monument was dedicated to the memory and legacy of General Draza Mihailovich.
The following is the address of Mr. Slavko Panovich, President of the Serbian National Defense Council of America at the dedication of the General Mihailovich monument at New Gracanica Monastery in Third Lake, Illinois, U.S.A. on September 7, 2009:
Esteemed President of the Association of the Serbian Fighters of the Royal Yugoslav Army, brother Milos Katic,
Esteemed representatives of Serbian national organizations,
My dear Serbian brothers and sisters,
Dear beautiful Serbian youth,
God be with you!
We have gathered here by our holy Gracanica to once again testify of our deep respect and love for General Dragoljub Mihailovich, the Serbian “Chicha”, a man every Serb can be proud of, and a patriot who built himself a lasting monument in the hearts of his people.
At the same time, I would like to praise the brotherly organization – The Association of Serbian Fighters of the Royal Yugoslav Army, which has erected this magnificent monument as a testimony to future generations of how much they have loved and respected their supreme commander.
Even after 63 years of his martyr death, the fact remains that Draza Mihailovich was the founder of the first, most successful and most important resistance movement in Europe which was at the time occupied by the Nazis and their satellites. At Ravna Gora Mountain, he sprang up the resistance flag in May 1941, at the time when Soviet Russia was still in what merely appeared to be a friendship with the Third Reich, America was neutral, and England was facing defeats in Greece and northern Africa. The Ravna Gora movement was, in the military sense and by military-strategic accomplishments, by far the most important resistance movement in World War Two, with the exception of Soviet Partisans, who had a state undefeated and an army on the other side of the front.
In occupied Yugoslavia, Tito’s Communists did not have the resistance to the occupiers as their primary goal, not for a single moment, except to seize power. That is why the Ravna Gora Movement was considered to be their primary enemy, not the Germans or the Ustashe. Until Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, the Communists did not even think of fighting. From a cowardly murder of two Serbian gendarmes on July 7, 1941 and until the summer of 1944, the Yugoslav Communists had undertaken offensives only against the Serbs, while they had fought the Germans, Ustashe, or Italians only when they had to, or when such fighting was imposed upon them.
As opposed to the rest of occupied Europe, Draza’s fighters had liberated towns like Loznica in the summer of 1941 when the Wermacht was pushing towards Moscow and Leningrad. In the fall of 1943, Draza’s fighters conducted operations of strategic importance in south-western Serbia and eastern Bosnia, when German casualties were measured in the hundreds of dead, wounded, or captured. Draza and his fighters saved and evacuated 600 Allied airmen shot down from the sky over the Serbian lands, which is more than all of Europe’s resistance movements saved, let alone evacuated. Had some resistance movement somewhere in Europe achieved in four years of organized actions what Draza had achieved only in the first week of October 1943 by liberating Visegrad and Prijepolje and by blowing up the Belgrade-Sarajevo railway, the outside world would have surely known about it.
The truth about the General includes him as a man, not just as a leader or a top history figure. He is the symbol of loyalty: to God, his people, his country, his King, and his Allies. Draza treated his fighters and officers as his sons and younger brothers. In his personal conduct he was mild and pleasant, interested in each one of his co-fighters and how their families were doing. We are talking about a hero, a brave man, a soldier and a knight, but also about a good man and a Serb embedded in the spirituality, morals, traditions, legends and spirit of his people. He is one of the greatest 20th century figures of the Serbian people.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Turks had set on fire the earthly remains of Saint Sava at Vracar, thinking that in that way they would scare the Serbian people and diminish the flame of freedom and their Orthodox faith, and the Communists followed suit and savagely murdered General Draza on July 17, 1946. Today in the capital city of Belgrade, at Vracar, the largest Orthodox Temple in the Balkans is reaching up towards the Heavens, and so, God willing, there will be a monument worthy of General Draza at the place of his execution, a monument that he and his co-fighters and followers deserve because of their freedom-loving ideals.
Toying around Draza’s grave, which we are witnessing these days, is equal to the continuation of the 1941-1945 civil war and is equal to treason and crime, especially bearing in mind all the tribulations and sufferings experienced by Serbs over the decades and all the tribulations and sufferings Serbs will face in the decades ahead. Unfortunately, this is so, because peace-making has not yet happened in Serbia. The Communist criminals, their ghosts, their students and followers, are still on the stage. Only when Draza is buried with dignity will we know that we are on the path of the final healing of the wounds from 1941 to 1945.
May God rest his soul!
Draza is alive while Serbia and Serbs prevail!
[Aleksandra’s note: English translation provided by Alex in Belgrade. Many thanks to you.]