“Heroes of the Fatherland – killed during the NATO aggression in 1999”

08. 05. 2018

Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin has officially opened today the exhibition dubbed “Heroes of the Fatherland – killed during the NATO aggression in 1999” in the newly opened gallery of the Military Museum in Belgrade. The opening of the exhibition was attended by the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces General Ljubiša Diković.

The exhibition was prepared by of the Military Museum curator Nataša Tomić and Military Museum senior curator Ljubica Dabić.

As the Minister of Defence pointed out, the Day of Civilian Victims of the NATO aggression is being marked today and none of the citizens of our country, regardless of whether a soldier, a policeman or a civilian, deserved to be killed in NATO aggression in 1999.

- This is a way for the Armed Forces to show how much it cares for its members, how much it remembers them, how much it remembers their sacrifice, and that each of these persons should be written down and recorded. There were some generations before us that did not remember the names of all the victims and those killed in the wars, both in the First and the Second World Wars. It is up to us to never to repeat this error again and to remember, because if we do not remember, we will not be remembered either. These are brave and honest people who did not deserve to be killed. Their right to defend their country and live in it is not a justification for anyone to kill them, Minister Vulin said, adding that we do not have anyone who is responsible for NATO aggression, but we still have to believe that one day somebody will be held responsible for all the crimes committed against our people, our country, for prolonged crimes such as the throwing of depleted uranium.

- There is a hope that once the world will understand that we did not provoke NATO aggression, that we did not ask for it, that we did not wage the wars because we wanted them, but because they were imposed on us, and we could not do anything else but what any other country in the world would do when faced with terrorism, with killing of its soldiers, its officers and its civilians, the Minister of Defence said.

According to him, 725 members of the Armed Forces and 417 members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose faces and eyes we will be able to remember from the exhibition, are innocent victims.

Every crime, especially when it is big, and it is difficult to find bigger crime than the NATO aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, gets its satisfaction in the history and human justice. I strongly believe in that. All those who are here and who are warning us silently that we must remember them and keep memory of them are seeking justice. And this memorial room is our way of saying that we will not forget, the Minister of Defence said stressing that the time of the shame has passed.

We are not ashamed of any killed members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, just as we are infinitely proud of every our soldier, officer, policeman and citizen who opposed aggression in our country that spring. This is a way for the Armed Forces to show respect for its members, but the whole country has to do it - for its sake, for future generations. This is for the first time that we are showing to the whole world, in such a clear and systematic way, that this is our truth, and that those who have interrupted the young lives should respond to the silent accusation of each of these interrupted young lives. The time of shame is gone. It is time for a quiet pride, but not a pride for the fact that another generation showed how strong and insolent it is in terms of warriors, but proud that this people remained, that it is safeguarding its country and wants to live in peace, Minister Vulin said.

General Diković pointed out that the exhibition is a sign of great recognition to fallen heroes and a sign of admiration for all of us, and that every year should be a year of remembering them and their deeds.

It is great to be here today and, above all, honourably, surrounded by people who have given life for the freedom we enjoy today, and let this be a wonderful example to all our generations of how we should act in a specific moment and how to behave in defence of freedom and our state. I would like to thank all those who have organized this exhibition as another token of appreciation and bowing to the shadows of these people, as a sign of non-oblivion and faith in a better future and a stronger and better attitude towards values that do not pass, such as the value for the defence of the fatherland, General Diković concluded.

Head of the Military Museum, Lieutenant-Colonel Gradimir Matić, said that the exhibition was dedicated to “knights who died during the NATO aggression on our country” and said that when visitors of this exhibition, especially those younger, pass along the line of the fallen heroes, “they will see that this pleiad of defenders fulfilled the vow to their homeland”.

The exhibition entitled “Heroes of the Fatherland - killed during the NATO aggression in 1999” is dedicated to all heroes who have laid down their lives in the struggle for freedom and independence, to those who did not return and those who expected them, to talk about them and to remember them.


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