General Mihailovich at the 1946 trial that would end
with his execution.
The hills of Ivanjica, Serbia
Photo by Z. Pejovich
In America it is still September 15th. In Serbia the first hours of September 16th are passing through the night. This is an important day in the history of Serbia. This is the day when Serbia has an opportunity to redeem herself.
On this day Serbia must forget blaming others. She must face her own direct accountability in putting to death one of her greatest heroes and most loyal sons and begin the journey to redemption.
On this day, September 16th, General Draza Mihailovich will stand trial again, only he will be absent. On his behalf will be present Serbian patriots for whom justice for the departed is paramount. They believe with all their hearts that General Mihailovich is owed a fair trial, albeit posthumously, and this time around, there in the Belgrade courthouse on Timocka Street, Serbia will be faced with an ultimatum of justice for one of her own.
September has been a significant month in the Mihailovich timeline. It is in September 1916 that he participated in the first offensive on the Salonika Front in World War I as a Second Lieutenant and was wounded. Two years later, in 1918, again in September, he participated in the historic breakthrough on that same front as a Lieutenant. Throughout his military service, which began in 1910 and spanned both Balkan Wars, the First World War, and World War II, Draza Mihailovich was recognized for his intelligence, his insight, his bravery and courage, and was decorated and promoted accordingly. He earned every rank he achieved, and he reached the pinnacle as "General" and "Supreme Commander". Though he would be betrayed and abandoned by the Allies during World War II, it was the abandonment by his own King in September of 1944 that was perhaps the most grievous for him.
Now it is again September many, many years later, and Serbia has the opportunity to remember why her son was so decorated and promoted and so revered, respected and beloved through war after war, having dedicated his life to military service on behalf of the homeland and the people that he loved. The call has been issued to "officially rehabilitate General Mihailovich" and the date has been set for this September 16th day in 2010. You might call it a "Rehabilitation Trial". If the "rehabilitation" is affirmed by the court, perhaps we might be able to upgrade "Rehabilitation" to "Justice Served".
I wish I was in Belgrade today to shake the hands of those patriots who have made it their mission in life to right the wrongs of the past and to give General Mihailovich the due justice he deserves. These patriots, some of whom I can proudly call friends and acquaintances, and others whom I've never met, will make it possible for Serbia to redeem herself on this September 16th day, there on Timocka Street.
I pray that she will see her way to this redemption on behalf of all those who did not live to see this day.
September 15, 2010
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