Every year on this day, 5th of August, the Republic of Croatia remembers, commemorates and celebrates Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, the Day of Croatian Defenders and marks the anniversary of the military-police operation „Storm“, the single-most decisive battle thanks to which the Homeland War was finally brought to its much awaited end. This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of that glorious victory.
Operation “Storm“ started on Friday, August 4th 1995, at 5 am, and in only 84 hours 10,500 square kilometres of Croatian territory had been liberated by the 200,000 Croatian soldiers after a five year Serbian occupation. Croatian military and order forces entered the Town of Knin, the symbol of Serbian occupation at the time, ending the self-proclaimed Serb entity in Croatia. They erected the Croatian flag on top of the medieval fortress overlooking southern Knin at 12 pm, marking not only the liberation of Knin but the rest of the occupied Croatian territory as well. 174 Croatian soldiers lost their lives in the operation and 1,400 were wounded.
The completion of the operation was announced on August 7, permanently changing the relations of military power in the war-torn countries, and finally destroying the myth of the all-powerful Serbian army. Outnumbered, outgunned, but never outmaneuvered, Croatian soldiers prevailed in a David versus Goliath battle, an exceptional military and human victory won by exceptional people.
Operation “Storm“, preceded by operation „Flash“, created the conditions for the end of war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian region near the Danube river into Croatia’s constitutional order.
Today, Croatia is thriving as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but its people will never forget the ones who made it all possible. Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day always reminds us of our heroes who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater cause, allowing Croats to live freely on their own land.