Every 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 26h anniversary of that glorious victory.
On Friday, August 4th 1995, at precisely 5 a.m., the oh so important operation “Storm“ started. It took only 84 hours for 10,500 square kilometres of Croatian territory to be liberated by the mere 200,000 Croatian soldiers and defenders after a long and tumultuous five year Serbian occupation. The ultimate end to Serbian occupation finally happened when 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. With the glorious raising of the Croatian flag on top of the medieval Knin fortress at exactly 12 noon, the liberation of Knin and the occupied Croatian territory was finally finished. 174 brave Croatian soldiers gave their lives in the operation and 1,400 were wounded.
The fact that the operation was over was announced on August 7, permanently changing the relations of military power in the region, and forever destroying all hopes of the enemy of creating the all-powerful Great Serbia. 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“ was preceded by operation „Flash“, and both of them created the conditions for the long hopped end of the horrible war that raged 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.
If we look at Croatia today, it is the most developed country in the Balkans, a member state of the European Union and NATO, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But none of this would have been possible without all the brave heroes we remember today. Heroes who, with their selfless sacrifice for the homeland, enabled all Croats to now live peacefully on their own land. May all of them, those who are among us, and those who are no more, have eternal glory and praise.
Photo: Srećko Niketić