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A Salute to Slovenia-25 Years of Independence and July 4th Celebrations in Lakewood

On Sunday, July 3rd, we found out that a program was taking place at the SNPJ Farm on Heath Road in Willoughby titled "A Salute to Slovenia-25 Years of Independence" IMG_2665starting at 3pm featuring the Jeff Pecon Orchestra joined by Mr. Joey Miskulin, the famed entertainer.

Unfortunately, we didn't arrive there until shortly before 5pm so we missed the first set of music although later we would dance until close to 7pm. We thought that it was good, however, that so many people were there that we had to angle our car into a parking spot on a hill outside of the main entrance. We were in time, though, to witness a short program kicked off by Mr. Joe Valencic, President of the Cleveland SNPJ Federation of Lodges, that celebrated the anniversary of Slovenia's independence from what was then Yugoslavia. IMG_2659Mr. Valencic noted that the actual day of Slovenia's declaration of independence was June 25, 1991 six months after the Slovenians voted for secession.

He talked about how the Slovenians living in Cleveland quickly rallied their country of origin (or that of their families and/or their ancestors) by forming "United Americans for Slovenia" in order to campaign for the United States to recognize Slovenia's as an IMG_2666independent country. Over 650 Slovenian cultural organizations in the United States ultimately expressed support as did U.S. Senator John Glenn and U.S. Congressman Dennis Eckart. Later Senator Robert Dole of Kansas introduced a resolution calling for U.S. recognition of Slovenia which finally happened on April 7th, 1992 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Two veterans of the fight for Slovenian recognition that were there with us were Mr. Edmond Turk who chaired "United Americans for Slovenia" and Mr. Tony Petkovsek who recalled hosting, along with the American Slovene Radio Club, two radio marathons on Slovenia's behalf. One of them was on August 3, 1991 and not only did calls come in from places as far away as London; by the end of four hours 600 donations were pledged.

The result of all this is that today Slovenia is a free country and an active member of the European Union and NATO.

Also present at the SNPJ Farm for this celebration was Mr. Andrej Gregor Roda, the Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia who thanked us all for our support and wished us all a happy 4th of July, our own celebration of independence.

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And we spent a lot of our 4th of July in Lakewood where we put on a "State Senator Michael Skindell" t-shirt and helped to carry his banner as we marched in the annual parade. Senator Skindell told us that he estimated that perhaps 15,000 people turned out for it which in a city of just over 52,000 is a very impressive number.

As we passed Ms. Melissa Garrett, Community Relations Specialist, Senator Skindell complimented her on doing such a fine job organizing the parade as she does each year.

Throughout the day people would gather to socialize with their friends in Lakewood Park. At 7pm there would be a band concert and, after dark, a wonderful extravaganza of fireworks.

For us, it was a wonderful way to spend the 4th.

 

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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