Grandpa Đorđe Mihailović, the guardian of the Serbian military cemetery Zejtinlik in Thessaloniki, will receive a Serbian passport, recognition for decades of vigil over the mounds of our soldiers who died on the Thessaloniki front. “We Mihailovićs were born in Grblja near the Bay of Kotor, but we always called ourselves Serbs,” says Đorđe.
Đorđe Mihailović, the guardian of the Serbian military cemetery Zejtinlik in Thessaloniki, received the final Serbian citizenship.
These days, the Government of Serbia will grant him Serbian citizenship for his decades-long commitment in guarding the 8,000 graves of Serbian warriors and, with special love, nurturing memories of them.
“I inherited respect and admiration for the heroes from my grandfather Sava, then my father Đuro, who before me kept the flag of Serbian glory in this endless field of sorrow and pride. They vowed to hold that flag firmly because while you are holding the flag, it is holding you. That is how it is in our nation. We, the Mihailovićs, were born in Grblja near the Bay of Kotor, but we always called ourselves and considered ourselves Serbs. Nothing else, only Serbs “, said grandfather Đorđe earlier.
He himself has been guarding and nurturing the mounds of Serbian soldiers who laid down their lives during the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front for more than six decades. At this Serbian military cemetery, he is still a guard today and every morning he raises the Serbian flag over the sleeping military regiments.
“I serve them as if they were alive. It is an honor to serve in a place like this where their bones are below every foot. And the destinies transmitted by their descendants, when they come from Serbia. And there’s nowhere they don’t come from. They bring some marks from their home, native brandy, a box of tobacco. They stay here all day, listening to the verses I tell them. They cry, and I tell them: it’s not a tear, children, for heroes like this. It is up to you to remember them and be proud of them, “said Đorđe.
And when his years seriously affected his health, Đorđe then reconciled that it was time to leave the old, stone house in the cemetery, where he was born. A few years ago, he moved into an apartment about a hundred meters down the street, above.
His wife Svetlana, a Greek woman to whom he gave this Serbian name said when he was breathing with the help of an oxygen bottle, that as soon as he got up he opened the door on the terrace, looked at the cemetery and went down to Zejtinlik. Bent over, with the help of a stick, every morning the same – he opens the gate, raises the flag, opens the mausoleum and waits for the descendants of the warriors to tell them something more about the glorious past.
When the centenary of the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front on Zejtinlik was marked two years ago, in his nineties, Đorđe Mihailović, standing in the sun, followed the jubilee celebration ceremony all the time. They offered him in vain and even brought him a chair “to rest a little”, he refused – militarily.
“This is the day and this is the place when we should all stand,” he said.