The Ilinden uprising on St. Elijah’s day August 2nd, 1903 started the revolution against the Ottoman Empire and the pursuit for a free Macedonia once again. One hundred and two years later, we celebrate and honor the bravery of these men.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After almost five hundred years of Ottoman occupation, in the 1870s, the Macedonian people decided that something had to be done in order to regain their freedom. As a result, a national reawakening occurred amongst the Macedonians – a desire to achieve national independence and self-determination – a free Macedonia for the Macedonians.
A group of Macedonian inteligentsia led by Goce Delchev began organizing themselves under the platform of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. The visionary Delchev was the father of the Macedonian revolution and the most powerful symbol of the dedication of the Macedonian people to the ideals of freedom, independence and equality in recent Macedonian history. Goce Delchev, fellow Macedonians, is our George Washington.
On August 2nd, 1903, Macedonian people rose in the St. Elijah’s uprising against the Turkish Ottoman Empire – one of the greatest moments in the history of the Macedonian people. Liberating themselves from the Turks, the revolutionaries formed the Krusevo Republic, the first Republic in the Balkans. However, after massive Turkish reinforcements this Republic was short-lived as the Turks re-occupied the freed territories.
Hundreds of Macedonians died fighting for freedom and independence under the slogan “Freedom or Death” during the Ilinden Uprising. Fellow Macedonians, we must not forget what our forefathers fought for on this event. Our land and people were abused, raped, assimilated, discriminated, terrorized and partitioned, but our revolutionaries raised their head up and said NO MORE!
Finally, on September 8th, 1991, we achieved our long awaited independence. However, there are still Macedonians in in Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece who are continualy assimilated, discriminated and not allowed the basic human rights. It is also sad that there are Macedonians within their own country Republic of Macedonia who are assimilated and discriminated on a daily basis. And we have millions of Macedonian brothers and sisters who are scattered all around the world encompassing the Macedonian Diaspora.
On this day each year, we gather with family and friends to commemorate the anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising. We call upon all Macedonians around the world, not to forget what tragedy has befallen the Macedonian nation, but more importantly, to continue with what our forefathers fought for – freedom, independence, and equality. These honorable revolutionary concepts fundamentally changed the course of Macedonian history and we must continue to celebrate our historic heritage. We will “NEVER – NEVER” give up!
Long may live and prosper our dear ancestral homeland Macedonia!!!