The president of the Croatian Bishops' Conference (HBK), Zadar Archbishop Zelimir Puljic, said at the Vukovar Homeland War Memorial Cemetery on Wednesday that Croatia was today marking "a sad day of suffering when the occupying JNA forces ravaged Vukovar and Skabrnja."
Celebrating Mass on the occasion of Vukovar Remembrance Day, Puljic said the occupying forces wanted to extinguish people's desire for freedom, underlining that after the fall of the Berlin Wall - "that shameful symbol of the power of atheist and communist ideology" - that thirst for freedom only grew bigger among Croatians.
Recalling locations of fighting in the Vukovar area, Puljic named heroes of the city's defence - Blago Zadro, Alfred Hill, Marin Vidic, Ivan Adjelic, Juraj Njavro, Nikola Papac, Jean Michel Nicollier and all other defenders and commanders killed, wounded or gone missing in the war.
"We remember today columns of exhausted citizens who, being at the mercy of mad occupiers, had to leave their beloved town, we remember the massacre at the (Vukovar) hospital and at Ovcara, and the Way of the Cross march to the Memorial Cemetery," Puljic said, adding that the Vukovar tragedy was witnessed by Europe's and the world's power wielders of whom many did nothing to prevent it.
Nonetheless, today's commemoration is dedicated to the people who loved, protected and defended Vukovar and Croatia, said Puljic, calling for ridding one's memory of any bad thoughts and feelings, for praying to God and expressing gratitude for the gift of freedom.