It is my honor to be here with you today. The Embassy is proud to support this exhibition that celebrates the friendship and cultural ties between our countries.
First, I’d like to thank Vladimir Čeh for curating an inspired exhibition that reminds us of forgotten stories of heroism and friendship. Thanks also to our team at the American Corner and the Novi Sad Cultural Center, all of whom came together to support this project.
The fact is that our cultures are interwoven: Serbians have enriched American culture in fields such as science, the arts, athletics, and academia; the list of renowned Serbians in American history is long and impressive. You can find proud Serbian Americans attending St. Sava churches in my home town, Phoenix, AZ, but also in Issaqah, WA, Cypress, TX, and Parma, OH.
As you’ll be reminded in this exhibition, we have come together in common struggles. During the First World War, 10,000 Serbian-Americans joined the Serbian Army as volunteers and fought at Thessaloniki (Salonika).
American doctors and nurses volunteered to come and treat those who were wounded and sick, manning the last remaining hospital in Belgrade as our common enemies rained artillery on this city and disease devastated an entire generation.
President Woodrow Wilson, encouraged by the great Serbian-American Mikhail Pupin, was so inspired by the unbreakable spirit of the Serbian people that he ordered the Serbian flag to be flown over the White House, and included a call for international guarantees of Serbia’s political and economic independence in his famous Fourteen Points speech.
In the same way the United States government stood side by side with Serbia during the First World War, private American citizens also supported this effort.
It is these personal accounts of bravery that highlight the depth of relations between the United States and Serbia. Stories of personal sacrifice show how important Serbia was in the hearts and minds of Americans during the First World War. I want to thank Vladimir Ceh once again for bringing these stories to light.
Please enjoy the exhibit. Like you, I look forward to learning “Who is Malvina Hoffman?”