Only one day has passed since Independence Day was celebrated in one part of our country Bosnia and Herzegovina. More specifically, on Saturday March 2nd, in the beautiful city banquet hall of “Grbic” restaurant, hundreds of St Louis Bosnians gathered to celebrate March 1st– Independence Day of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an event organized by the Association of Srebrenica genocide survivors.
Guests from the public life of the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri were joined by guests from Bosnia and Herzegovina. One guest was Camil Durakovic, president of the Srebrenica municipality and Emir Suljagic, president of the citizen’s coalition “First Mart.”
The formal part of the program that was wholeheartedly led by Rusmin Topalovic and Merima Zolj began with the singing of the American and then Bosnian national anthem, and then reading the Fatiha and a minute of silence to pay tribute to all those sincere patriots for Bosnia and Herzegovina who gave their lives for their nation.
U.S. officials, former Congressman Russ Carnahan and St. Louis mayor Francis Slay took advantage of the free time before the start of the program to share some ideas with Camil Durakovic, Mayor of Srebrenica about projects that have in mind the mutual interests of both countries, America and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Although they were born here, in their hearts is written the name of Bosnia and Herzegovina” – with these words Merima Zolj announced folklore group “Djerdan”, who performed several folk dances of our country, decorated by the introductory part of the program before the officials addressed the people.
The first person to address the people was Hidajet Kardasevic, president of the Association of Srebrenica Survivors, with words of welcome and congratulations on the occasion of one of our country’s most important holidays, but then the hosts in a short but clear outline talked about the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the foundation to the present day. It was a short lesson intended for the younger generation.
On behalf of the United Bosnian and Herzegovinian Community, the opportunity to address the people was given to Zaim Jahic, secretary of the association, who said: “Disputed it or not, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an independent country that existed and will exist”. He added that ahead of us is the census and in two years elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After congratulating Independence Day to everyone, Jahic expressed the desire of United B.H. Community that mayor Slay will wins the election.
Remarks by Emir Suljagic came with special care because he spoke about Bosnians in the diaspora as well as Bosnians in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a body that should be included in the census this year. On that occasion he said among other things:
None of you who sit in this room tonight, did not vote for what we have today in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will never succeed in recovering the lost lives, but we have a chance twenty years later give another chance to our country. History has opened another window. Twenty years ago the weapons were tanks, howitzers … and so on, and today voices are important in places where the 1991. we have not had a chance to defend ourselves. Every vote is more important today than it was in April 1992. a Kalashnikov or any other gun. Then both our hands were tied, and we could not defend ourselves. Today we have plenty of what is important, and we do not use. We have votes. I did not come to condemn anyone that has not voted yet. Now we have a chance! – said Suljagic, saying further that we have a vision to fight for our rights in civilized way.
Once the short biography by Camil Durakovic was read, he congratulated everyone Independence Day and said:
We did not come here because of you, but because of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which we imagine the same way. You are forgotten. We are not powerful, because I am a modest head of the municipality where today there are only 7,000 people, out of 37,000 how many of them before the war. We in Bosnia and Herzegovina have learned to cry and to ask. That is not Bosnia and Herzegovina that we want, and that you want and need. To get Bosnia and Herzegovina that we want it is necessary to register and to vote. There is a formula for it. It’s not a platitude, we have our way and it just transfers the information is added at the end of Camil Durakovic.
True friends of the BH community in St. Louis, Patrick McCarthy and Professor Benjamin Moore addressed the audience, followed by a subsequent short speech by mayor Francis Slay, who once again reminded all that gathered that he expects their support in the upcoming primary election. Congratulating March 1st, Day of independence in BiH, Slay sent words of welcome to Camil Durakovic and Emir Suljagic telling them that the Bosnian-Herzegovinian community in this city has a special respect because “it is a very good religious and family people who have embellished St. Louis.”
At the end of the official part of the program, Hidajet Kardašević handed commemorative gratitude on behalf of the survivors of Srebrenica to SabaH, AJ’s Trucking, BH Radio community, Elvira Muh, Radio Behar, Midwest Trucking, Vega Trucking, Trucking SIDIC, AA Express Trucking.
The rest of the evening was spent in each other’s company with the program by Azo band and several local interpreters of folk music.