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Djoko J. Vuckovic

Montenegrin Emigrants and Their Role in the New Government

The 17th Crnogorski Iseljenicki Susreti were held in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada, on the 7th and 8th of October. This was the first gathering of our organizations on the North American continent since the referendum and the declaration of indeoendence of our fatherland. The success of that two day event was greatly due to the eight people wwho came from Montenegro to be with us  during that memorable event. We are extremely grateful to them.
During the Balkan Wars, followed by World War I, Montenegrn emigrants set aside their picks and shovels in different mines across the United States - they left their families and friends and rushed back to their beloved fatherland to defend it from the Austro-Hungarian invador. Many, like those who perished in the Bay of Medovo in Albania, never got to their beloved Montenegro - tragically ending their heroic journey just a few steps from the battlefields. Many of those who did get to the front also perished before the W.W.I ended and the forign intruders were driven away. Their heroic contribution in winning the War should never be forgotten. They helped win the war, however, they were not successful in saving their beloved country from the domestic evil- "od zla domacega". 
What followed after WWI and 1918 is one of the most tragic stories ever recorded in the annals of history, a story which is very well known by all of us, a story which should never be forgotten, and most certaily we should never allow it to be repeated. After the so called "unification" with our brothers to the north, the atrocities commited upon those in Montenegro who protested the injustices committed upon them by the new occupying forces from the Kingdom of Serbia, were far more gruesome, far more vicious and inhumane than those committed by the foreign enemy: execution of those who opposed their occupation, concentration camps for women and children, starvation, burning of homes to the ground so noone would be able to live there ever again, etc., all of this in the name of "brotherhood and unity" of all the Serbs of the Balkan Penninsula. According to the Chicago Tribune of September 4, 1919, the neutral observers who arrived in Paris the day before "...urged the American and British military intervention in Montenegro to prevent widespread massacre of the royal Montenegrins by the Serbians." It went on to say, "Unless Britain and America interfears not a single royal Montenegrin will be alive. The Serbs are killing them wholesale." They took our country, they destroyed our dynasty which in every respect was more gloeious than theirs, they took our Church away from us, and Serbianized all those who were of Orthodox religion, - Macedonins, Bosnians and Hercegovinians, Croats, and, of course, us Montenegrins. As a matter of fact, all the lands in the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats amd Slovenes became nothing less than the lands of Greater Serbia under the dictatorship of King Aleksandar, the grandson of our legendary King Nikola I. King Nikola who was also obsessed with unification of all Serbs, foud out during the last days of his life in exile what kind of unification Serbians had in mind....and he cursed them.
For almost 90 years, the once proud people of the most heroic nation in Europe were driven into submission. They became a people with broken spirit. But during the last decade of the 20th century, and the first 5-6 of the 21st century, their spirit and deep desire for independence rekindled and the struggle began to regain our natural place among the free and freedom loving democracies of the world. The desire to be able to use our own language, to worship in our own church, and for those among us who use a synagogue or a mask in which to woship to be able to practice their great faiths without fear of being rridiculed or discriminated against. That struggle culminated on the 21 of May, 2006 - the most important date in the history of Montenegroin the past 100 years - the date on which we regained our independence, rekindled our spirits, and vowed never again to allow our beloved Montenegro to succumb and repeat the past 88 yers of our history. We are big enough to forgive their transgrassions, - but we should never forget what happened to us and our nation during the past 88 years. We have to remain vigilant to theiir deeds and intentions for they have not made peace with what has happened on May 21, 2006.
The victory at the referendum of May 21 was possible by actions of some individuls and people of particular regions of Montenegro - and all of us should forever be grateful to them. My native Cetinje, where 86% of the votes went for the independence. Rozaj, Plav, Gusinje, Ulcinj, Kotor, Podgorica, Niksic, Budva, etc., where people overwhelmingly cast their ballots for independence. Montenegro also asked for assistance from her sons and daughters who left for far and distant lands for search of a better life, and we, almost 16,000 of us from all over the world , answered her summons and rushed back to our Montenegro, of our own expense, in some cases for just 24 hours, just long enough to be able to say loudly and clearly through the power of a ballot, "We want freedom - we want our own country".These great patriots were very much instrumental in the outcome of the referendum. I consider these patriots our heroes of the 21st century - equal to those who during the Balkan Wars went back to fight to save their fatherland. Credit for the successful referendum should also go to the Premier of Montenegro. Milo Djukanovic, whose political skills and determination were immeasurable, whether you like him or not. And last, the man we love to hate - Risto, a.k.a. Emfilohije, a.k.a. Pukovnik, a.k.a. Metropolit Crnogorsko-Primorski of the Serbian Church, who tried in so many devious ways to start a civil war btween the pos and cons on the referendum and in that way to prevent the referendum of ever taking place. Many of those who sided with him at the beginning relized how vicious, how hateful, how evil and distructive that man is, that they choe to vote against him and everything that he represents. 
And now we who are presently living far from Montenegro have to realize that the job is still not finished. We will need to roll up our sleeves, all the way up to our elbows, and actively participate in the development of a lasting peace and a true democratic nation. We have to take an active part in that process because we have so much to offer to Montenegro, such as knowledge that we have aquired by living and learning in different democracies around the world. We, all the Montenegrin associations and clubs around the world, must find a way to unite under one leadership so that we would be of maximum assistance for that undertaking. I firmly believe that the days of the disappointed Blazo Sredanovic's leadership, or lack there of, are behind us and that the time is ripe for such a unification. The Montenegrin government, as well as Matica Iseljenika, must have relized how important we are in the development of a new government there. There must be a provision in the new constitution establishing a separate organ or department that will specifically deal with the emigrants. We can not be left to wonder around aimlessly, unorganized, as we have been in the past. After May 21, it should be very clear to everyone that even though we are no longer living there, our hearts are forever with the people and the country in which we were born. 
Djoko J. Vuckovic
San Jose, CA



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