The Slovenia Times

Slovenian-American Friendship Day celebrates friendly ties

President Nataša Pirc Musar and US Ambassador Jamie L. Harpootlian at an event marking Slovenian-American Friendship Day. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Observed since 2014, Slovenian-American Friendship Day is an opportunity to celebrate the ties between Slovenia and the US, but it is also the day of commemorating US airmen who died in a WWII bomber crash near Polzela in 1944. This year's ceremony was addressed by President Nataša Pirc Musar and US Ambassador Jamie L. Harpootlian, both of whom stressed the strong ties between the two countries.

Pirc Musar told the ceremony, which was held in Andraž nad Polzelo in northeastern Slovenia on 11 May, that such events were a reminder of joint efforts, the fight for freedom, the senselessness of bloodshed, and the suffering of innocent victims, adding that the memory of WWII horrors should never fade.

The ceremony marked the 80th anniversary of the crash. The B-17 bomber carrying a 10-strong crew was downed by Nazi forces on 19 March 1944 while being on its way to bomb a Steyer plant in Austria that produced weapons for the Nazi forces. Only two of the men survived, and they were helped by the locals.

Such historical events are linked by conscious and brave decisions aimed at the well-being of fellow human beings and reflecting the willingness to sacrifice one's life for the freedom of people and commitment to cooperation and solidarity, said Pirc Musar, the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

"It is on these foundations that partnerships, alliances and coalitions have been born, established and upgraded as forms of cooperation and agreement between countries and people."

The most important achievement of these processes is multilateralism, represented in the UN, she added. Saddened by the problems the UN faces in the current geopolitical situation, the president believes that UN member states have a lot to do to ensure respect for international peace and security.

Slovenia and the US have strong historical ties and are cooperating in many areas. "Together we are seeking solutions to contemporary challenges, such as climate change, hybrid threats, breakthrough technologies and respect for the international legal order at regional and global level," she said.

The two countries are partners, allies and friends, and Pirc Musar would like to see them remain that way in the future.

President Nataša Pirc Musar and US Ambassador Jamie L. Harpootlian at an event marking Slovenian-American Friendship Day. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Touching on the story of the airmen and the locals, US Ambassador to Slovenia Jamie L. Harpootlian said that it was such acts of selflessness that had led to a strong bond between the two countries and alliance in support of democracy and freedom.

She pointed to the current societal challenges, which she believes are "frighteningly similar" to those that threatened the world in the 1944.

The first Slovenian-American Friendship Day was observed ten years ago, when a memorial was unveiled at the Andraž nad Polzelo cemetery to honour the eight dead crewmen, who are buried at the cemetery. At the ceremony, Pirc Musar laid a wreath at the memorial.

Slovenian-American Friendship Day is observed just days after British-Slovenian Friendship Day, whose roots are also based in the solidarity shown during WWII.


More from Politics