Friday, July 29, 2022

Spomenik Hunting in Macedonia

While here, one of the things I was dying to do was hunt for "Spomeniks" - translates roughly to national monuments in Serbo-Croat.

I am going to post about each different one when I get home, but first I want to tell you why they mean so very much to me.

They are an odd jumble, but bear with me. When Marshal Tito and his troops defeated the Nazi's, Tito had to figure out how to bring the country together. They were 5 (or 7 depending on your definitions) different "republics" (like our states) in the nation of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia actually means "The Kingdom of the Southern Slavs". 

One way Tito tried to do this was celebrate the sacrifices of the united forces during Nazi occupation and the way they came together as a group. The Spomeniks are scattered throughout old Yugoslavia, and I saw these 4 major ones that are in Macedonia.

Something about this makes me optimistic and wistful. Hopeful about trying to keep a people together, despite their differences.

Ok, it didn't work out for Yugoslavia. 

The United States had the a similar problem after the revolution. New York, Virginia, South Carolina and Massachusetts had even less in common that the Yugoslavian Republics. But we were united under George Washington. And he was smart. George's method to keep the states together was ultimately to turn over power after 2 terms AND he stayed around to show that the country was more important than a person. 

Marshal Tito, for all the good (and bad) he did, didn't do that. When he died, he hadn't prepared for a successor to take over. And the history and rivalries of each "republic"  pulled them apart.

But think about it, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia all have a shared history and language. And they fell apart after Tito's death. In many ways the United States is similar. We all have a shared history and language. We even have the rivalries they had. But George's decision over 200  years ago, set us on the  path to one nationality. 

Can we keep it? At least Tito tried something. We are just tearing ourselves apart. So the Spomeniks to me are a gesture of hope, of equality, and dreams. We couldn't even agree on the designs of  the memorials to Vietnam or WWII.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox, but at least you understand why these mean so much to me.

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