Piešťany / Zvolen / Trenčianska Teplá / Stará Turá, November 9, 2021. NGO Servare et Manere responsible for the implementation of the international project Tree of Peace in cooperation with the Slovak Armed Forces, the Slovak Ministry of Defence and towns of Piešťany, Zvolen, Stará Turá and the Trenčianska Teplá village organized under the Auspices of the Romanian Royal Family, a series of memorial events to mark the Centenary of the birth of King Michael I of Romania (* October 25, 1921 – † December 5, 2017). The events of November 9 were the culmination of earlier memorial services in the memory of King Michael I, who played a key role in Romania’s transition to the Allies after 1944 and later spent decades in exile after a forced abdication. Thanks to a turnaround on the part of Romania, the Romanian Royal Army was also involved in the liberation struggles in Slovakia at the end of WWII. Approximately 240 000 to 260 000 Romanians took part in the liberation of Slovakia, consisting of personnel from 16 divisions, an air corps, a brigade of the railway army, a tank regiment, as well as other units. Particularly significant was their participation in the Bratislava-Brno operation (March 25 to May 5, 1945), in which, in addition to 266 000 Soviet soldiers, 86 000 Romanian soldiers also participated. 10 435 Romanian army soldiers are buried in Slovakia. Of these, 10 384 are buried in the Central Military Cemetery of the Romanian Royal Army in Zvolen, 36 soldiers found their final resting place in the cemetery in Stará Turá and 15 in Trenčianska Teplá.
The events began on October 25, 2021 on the birthday anniversary of King Michael I, which is also the Day of the Romanian Armed Forces, when Servare et Manere commemorated the victims of the Romanian Royal Army. During 14 hours, Marek Sobola, CEO of the association, traveled 700 kilometers and visited all known places of worship dedicated to the victims of the Romanian Royal Army in Slovakia. He laid exactly 25 wreaths in 20 places. Number 25 was very symbolic: King Michael I was born on October 25, and this day is the Day of the Romanian Armed Forces. Remembrance culminated on November 9, 2021, with a visit by a delegation from the Romanian Royal Family led by His Royal Highness Prince Radu, husband of Her Majesty Margareta The Custodian of the Romanian Crown, eldest daughter of King Michael I. The Prince was accompanied by a delegation from the Romanian Ministry of Defence under Lieutenant Colonel Cornel Văduva.
Memorial ceremonies began in the morning before the Monument to the Fallen Romanian Soldiers in Piešťany. The present guests were welcomed by the Mayor Peter Jančovič. Mr. Călin Fabian, Ambassador of Romania to Slovakia and Lieutenant Colonel Milan Kubizniak, Director of the Military History Museum in Piešťany, also took part in the event. The dignity of the event was added by the Honour Guard from the 53rd Battalion of the Field Services of Hlohovec and also by Romanian soldiers in historical uniforms. The delegation subsequently moved to the Central Military Cemetery of the Romanian Royal Army for the main event in Zvolen. In addition to the Romanian delegation and Ambassador, Peter Kozák, Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic, Lieutenant General Ľubomír Svoboda, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Slovak Armed Forces; Colonel Miloslav Čaplovič, Director of the Military History Institute and Deputy Mayor of Zvolen Vladimir Lupták also attended the event. Military Music and the Honour Guard were provided by the Bratislava Crew Command. The event was opened by a low flight of two supersonic front fighters Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 of the Air Force of the Slovak Armed Forces. Part of the memorial service in Zvolen was also the planting of the Tree of Peace, which is an international project of friendship and understanding between nations and its purpose is to join people of good will around the world. Since its inception in 2018, it has been successfully implemented in 10 countries on 3 continents and in its short period of existence has brought together personalities from 18 countries. The project commemorates not only victims of ordinary soldiers, but also victims of natural and environmental disasters. The Tree of Peace initiative was established on the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI and is being implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. The Tree of Peace also officially represents the Slovak Republic under the brand name “GOOD IDEA SLOVAKIA”.
“Even today, there are still places in the world where peace is not a matter of course. Places, where children cannot grow up in joy. That is also why we need a strong army. At the same time, it is very important to commemorate the victims of those who laid down their lives for freedom and democracy. Our project is not a war memorial. It is a memorial to the victims and a historical memory. Our project celebrates peace. Let us therefore strive to respect others and to live in peace and friendship. This is my dream and wish”, said Marek Sobola, founder of Servare et Manere and the international initiative Tree of Peace.
During the Zvolen memorial service, Servare et Manere awarded the daughter of King Michael I, Her Majesty Margareta The Custodian of the Romanian Crown and also His Royal Highness Prince Radu of Romania by the Memorial Medal of Tree of Peace in a Special class with rubies – a high award of the association for specific merits in spreading ideas of understanding and union among nations. Servare et Manere can recognise important personalities who treasure peace, freedom and mutual understanding and acknowledge the importance of initiatives which serve to enhance the welfare of everyone in society. Servare et Manere honours all those who have made a special contribution to the promotion of the idea of understanding between people uniting nations and preservation of nature. Subsequently, the 20th Tree of Peace, which Servare et Manere points out not only to the consequences of military conflicts, but also to the senseless plundering of nature in all its spheres – on land, in the oceans or in the air wars and riots place great environmental burdens and destroy human destinies, was planted in the Military Cemetery area by rare guests from Slovakia and Romania. Prince Radu together with the Romanian Ambassador in front of the Tree ceremoniously unveiled a memorial pillar with a portrait of King Michael I, whose author is the sculptor Michal Janiga.
The next stop of the delegation was the Monument and the Tombs of the Romanian Soldiers in Trenčianska Teplá. The guests were welcomed by the mayor of the village Slavomíra Propperová. Soldiers from the 71st Command Support Battalion in Trenčín provided the Honour Guard and a dignified laying of wreaths. This was followed by a move to Stará Turá, the last planned site of a demanding program of four memorial services. Mayor Leopold Barszcz was waiting for the delegation at the Monument and the Tombs of the Romanian Soldiers in the evening, who also invited guests to the local school building, where a memorial plaque dedicated to Romanian soldiers is installed in the lobby. The Honour Guard from the 53rd Battalion of the Field Services of Hlohovec ensured a dignified laying of wreaths. The spiritual words and prayers for the fallen soldiers during all events were provided by military veteran Colonel Jozef Paluba, Bishop Vicar of the Ordinariate of the Armed Forces and Armed Corps of the Slovak Republic.