Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Minister Vučević lays wreath to commemorate Remembrance Day for Victims of NATO Aggression

Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević laid a wreath at the monument to the Heroes of the 37th Motorized Brigade in the "Stefan Nemanja" barracks in Raška, to commemorate the Remembrance Day for the Victims of NATO Aggression.
  At the wreath-laying ceremony, the Minister of Defence was accompanied by Deputy Army Commander, Major General Slađan Stamenković, and the commander of the Second Army Brigade, Brigadier General Siniša Stašević.

According to Minister Vučević, it is important to know the history of our people in order to be who we are.

  - What are our origins? How much effort did our ancestors have to make and how much of their blood had to be spilled so that we can be who we are today? How big a sanctity are we defending? How can we remain who we are and what we want to be, and what has characterized us as a nation throughout history? This is exactly what the culture of remembrance is for, not to allow important things and events to be forgotten. That is why we are here today - to prove that the memory of the heroic defence of the homeland against NATO aggression in 1999 and the heroic battles of 1998 transcend space and time. Twenty-four years ago today, the NATO aggression against our country began. It lasted for a full 78 days and nights, destroying not only military facilities and targets, but also city squares, streets, markets, homes of civilians and even hospitals, mercilessly killing not only the members of the security forces, but also innocent civilians, including old people, women and small children - said the Minister of Defence.
  To someone who is not familiar with the soul of the Serbian people, Minister Vučević said, it may sound strange and unbelievable that a nation that has a much smaller military and is less numerous than the enemy did not surrender, admit defeat or bow down, but dared put up resistance.

- There is nothing complicated about it, the answer is very simple, that is us, the Serbian people - modest, generous, a people that respects what belongs to others, but will not allow others to threaten what belongs to us. More than two centuries ago, the first standing army emerged from such a nation. The peasant took up arms and became a soldier to fight for freedom. The invincibility of our units lies precisely in that link, because who will protect the homeland and its people better than the army that this country gave birth to? That infernal spring of 1999, members of that army showed their courage, ability and skills. They also showed that they did not know the meaning of the words back down, give up or withdraw! In all the conflicts that our "small" Serbia has been brought into in the course of history, the army has remained consistent – it has never given up or faltered in the struggle for the preservation of the sovereignty of this country, for a better and safer future - stressed Minister Vučević adding that the pain and sorrow for the innocent victims had neither diminished nor disappeared.
According to the Minister of Defence, the most difficult thing was not being allowed to say for years that what happened hurt us.
  - We were asked to be silent, to bow our heads and feel ashamed. Those who forced us to do so without knowing our soul, who renounced their ancestors, had forgotten that the Serbian soul could not be restrained. The famous Serbian writer, Branislav Nušić, who lost the most precious thing he had in the First World War - his only son, expressed his love for his homeland with the following words: "Homeland is not a limited, bordered, embodied object. Homeland is thought, homeland is faith, and thought and faith never die.” - said Minister Vučević.
According to him, love for the homeland has characterized the Serbian people throughout history and contributed to the fact that today Serbia is on the path of progress, a proud, upright, honest and dignified country.

- There is a lot of symbolism in this day, so it is no coincidence that we have gathered right here in the "Stefan Nemanja" barracks in Raška, where members of the 21st Infantry Battalion are stationed today. They shoulder great responsibility as followers of the heroic 37th Motorized Brigade. A brigade whose members, with their heroic deeds, which resulted in the loss of 60 lives and three times as many wounded unit members, built themselves into the future and which was awarded the Order of the People’s Hero for its contribution to the defence of the country against NATO aggression – said the Minister of Defence.

On this day, Minister Vučević said, we try to remain dignified in pain, and to send a message to the world that Serbia remembers its history.
  - This is a sad day for Serbia, but as in everything else we do, even in pain, inspired by the deeds of those who were responsible for the most glorious moments in our national history, the Republic of Serbia tries to remain dignified and to send a clear message to the world, having no intention of being a threat to anyone, that it remembers and will never forget and that its army will always be there to protect all its citizens! Today we stand proudly, we are not silent and we are not ashamed of ourselves, our origins, or the best among us. Today, we pay due respect to our heroes who are in heaven, praying to God for a better future for Serbia! Eternal glory and grateful thanks to all our fallen heroes! And thank you, who are among us and who won’t allow the deeds done and the lives laid down for the freedom and honour of our homeland to be forgotten - concluded the Minister of Defence.
The president of the municipality of Raška, Nemanja Popović, said that today marked 24 years since the beginning of NATO aggression and that the memories of that event were vivid and painful.    

- We still feel the consequences of war and destruction today, and we have not forgotten the fallen soldiers and civilians. On Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to the heroes of the 37th Motorized Brigade, our brothers, fathers, friends, acquaintances, fellow citizens, and brave soldiers from Raška, Kraljevo, Vrnjačka Banja, Aleksandrovac and Novi Pazar. Sixty of them did not return home. We know that the families of the victims feel the most pain and that there are no words to comfort them. We sympathize with your pain and speak proudly about everything that the heroes of the 37th Motorized Brigade did for their homeland and their people - said Popović.
General Ljubiša Diković (ret.), who was the wartime commander of the 37th Motorized Brigade, told the audience that memories did not fade, and the pain felt by the loved ones did not subside.

- The 37th Motorized Brigade bravely defended the homeland. We fought for 78 terrible days against a far stronger NATO aggressor and tens of thousands of terrorists of the so-called KLA in Drenica, a hotbed of evil and terrorism against Serbs and non-Albanians. We did not care for our lives, we thought about the weakest and the sacred things that we were defending. We paid for it with the lives of 60 of our members and more than 200 lightly and seriously wounded. Eternal glory to you, heroes of the 37th Motorized Brigade - said General Diković.
  Wreaths were laid at the memorial by the families of the fallen soldiers and the representatives of associations that preserve the tradition of the 37th Motorized Brigade.

After laying the wreaths, Minister Vučević visited the Memorial Room in the "Stefan Nemanja" barracks.

The Memorial to the Heroes of the 37th Motorized Brigade was erected on June 16, 2000, in memory of 60 members of that unit, who died during the NATO aggression against FRY in 1999.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence Nemanja Starović, has laid a wreath at the Memorial to the Members of the 78th Motorized Brigade in the village of Reljan, municipality of Preševo, accompanied by Assistant Minister for Defence Policy Predrag Bandić.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence Mile Jelić, accompanied by Assistant Minister of Defence for Human Resources Siniša Radović, has laid a wreath at the Monument to the Victims of NATO Aggression in 1999 in downtown Smederevo.