My dear fellow countrymen, my home country Slovenia,
you turned 20 years yesterday and today is the 20 years anniversary of the war, that started a day after the independence was proclaimed. We fought 10 days for our freedom, however we were very lucky - the one who died in those 10 days, may they rest in peace. Please let's not forget the so many innocent victims of the brutal war in other parts of former Yugoslavia, that followed after our and Croatia's decision to embrace sovereignty, freedom, democracy and capitalism. 20 years from today I heard sirens howl all around my hometown and my father and I hid in the basement of our block together with many other people. We had no idea, what will happen. We heard planes flying over the city and shots fired in the distance. Faces were painted with fear and hopelessness, but I was just an 11 years old kid, confused and afraid, not being able to process what was happening.
We were hiding in the basement during the day and went back up to the apartment during night. It were summer holidays, all kids were at home and most parents, too. Life stood still those days. We were watching the news of tanks rolling through our cities and battles being fought, but we prevailed. Partly, because we were 100% determined, that we do not want to be part of a failed communist state anymore, partly because the enemy's army was falling apart. Soldiers were confused about, because they had to fight people, who were previously called their brothers. Yugoslavia died.
And Slovenia was born, an independent one. The roots of our country and nation date back to the 10th century, continuing to grow in the 16th, 18th and peaking in 1848, when the name Slovenija was first used as a possible name of a state, that would unify all by Slovenians populated lands in the Austrian Empire. Throughout history we were ruled by Austrians, Hungarians, Italians, Germans and Serbs, but we survived as a nation, our language and culture persevered even through the tough times of the tumultuous 20th century. And now we are here, 2011, twenty first century, with the destiny in our own hands. Brothers and sisters, we should not fail.
For we should not disappoint our ancestors, who fought for the freedom we now enjoy, yet seldom appreciate. Let's remember all the Slovenians throughout the history, who gave their lives for what we have today. Let's remember those, who had a dream of all Slovenians united in one country and being in charge of their own destiny. Let's remember those, who died before 25th June 1991 and could not see that moment, where we raised our flag and sung our national anthem for the first time in history as an independent nation.
No matter where in the world I am, Slovenia is always on my mind. My roots and my blood are from that wonderful piece of earth, my mother, who I miss dearly, is still living in the same house I was raised and missing me, too. When I think of my home country, I think of the people I left behind. I miss the environment, the clean air, the feeling of belonging. I miss speaking and thinking in my own language, but I gave all that up for something different, something I've been longing for all my life. I'm in Taiwan to learn and to grow in order to return home one day, to return a wiser man.
Those back at home, please keep my country they way I left it - keep it clean, safe and friendly. Slovenia is a precious gem that needs to be protected. Today I'm lifting my glass with the finest wine I could find in Taiwan and saying: "Na zdravje in še na mnoga leta!"
For those who want to see beautiful photos of Slovenia, please check the posts on my