with Baba Mim....
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"The Power of Three"--> www.mimbizic.com
And the Moon Township Historical Society website:
A tribute, by Milana (Mim) Karlo Bizic
Michael Kosmas, Helen Bentley’s lawyer and great friend, relayed that when Helen was in Kosovo in 1989, for the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, the beloved future Patriarch +Pavle, then Bishop of Kosovo, gave them a tour of the area. As they were walking to Gazimestan, the Holy Field in Kosovo, Metropolitan +Christopher said that Saint Helen (Sts. Helen and Constantine) was known for building holy Christian churches and “our” Helen will be known for defending them!
How excited we all get when we first spy this sign!
Former U.S. Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley’s (November 28, 1923-August 6, 2016) 40 day parastos was served at the Orthodox Church of Saint Matthew in Columbia, MD on September 24, 2016, officiated by Rector Fr. Constantine White and Deacon Sergius Miller. (Read more about the parish here: http://www.stmatthewoca.org/).
After the Memorial Service, we meet with former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes and his son, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, along with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. House. (https://www.democraticwhip.gov/) What was it that made these famous American legislators and so many more prominent non-Serb people of the Baltimore area find time to attend this parastos for their friend and colleague?
Wikipedia and other biographers relate how Helen was an American politician, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Maryland, serving five terms, from 1985 to 1995. Before entering politics, she had been a leading maritime reporter and journalist, the first woman ever to cover an American Federation of Labor convention! She was able to hold her own against any man, with her colorful and cantankerous, gruff styled raspy voice. The official House history says, “Her demeanor and presentation were as salty and as blunt as the sailors and stevedores about whom she wrote in the maritime industry.”
A story goes that once Jerry Falwell’s Christian coalition visited Helen in her Congressional office and told her that they really liked her voting record, but they were concerned because they heard she cursed too much. Helen responded that she just could not imagine who would spread such vicious rumors. Then when they left, she slammed the door and exclaimed "Can you believe those God damn p----- asked me that?!!"
It is important to note that upon her 1969 appointment as Chairman of the Federation Maritime Commission by President Richard Nixon, Helen became the fourth-highest ranking woman in the history of America’s federal government, the HIGHEST ranking woman of the Nixon’s administration and the FIRST woman to serve in a key governmental position in the maritime field.
Helen really knew how government worked, was a skilled mediator between labor and management, had decades of experience dealing with decision-makers in Annapolis and Washington, DC. They loved and admired her, but many also feared and disliked her tongue and tenacity! Bishop Atanasije once watched her in action in Congress and proclaimed that she was a lion. Once she punched in the stomach a fellow member of Congress who did not vote for the Serbs as she had advised him.
Helen backed numerous “Buy America” campaigns. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan eulogized her, saying “She was a rare breed in politics and a role model to public servants across Maryland.” Her fierce advocacy for the port of Baltimore led to the ports being named in her honor.
And I am excited to relate that I was present at the Tricentennial (300 year anniversasry of the Ports of Baltimore) when the Governor surprised Helen, who was Chairperson of the event, by officially proclaiming the “Helen Delich Bentley Ports of Baltimore” complete with an official green and white sign, a model of the sign that people who use the Beltway in Maryland to Baltimore see each day! At the gala, the Governor later remarked, it’s the first time he ever found Helen speechless! I was so happy that I was able to capture that moment for the American Srbobran!
· (Bizic, Milana Karlo. Helen Delich Bentley: Godmother of the Port of Baltimore, Kuma to All of Us. American SRBOBRAN [Pittsburgh, PA] 19 July 2006, pp. 8,9. Covers tribute to Helen Delich Bentley by the Ports of Baltimore during the 300th Anniversary of the Port, an event in which Bentley served as Chairperson. The tri-centennial maritime signature event was celebrated in the newly unveiled $13 million cruise ship terminal in South Locust Point. Governor Erhlich presented roses to Bentley before surprising her with a plaque noting the official name change of the terminal to The Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.)
Her good deeds for America were endless. But she also helped her Serbian people in numerous ways, and rightfully so, many Serbian organizations were in attendance at this moving parastos ceremony via representatives, including our Dane Medich, Vice President of the Serb National Federation, see: snflife.org. Dane is the co-owner of Napa Auto Parts in Etna, PA.
After a quick Siri mistake detour to Baltimore (it was ok, we got to see THE sign!), we arrived just a few minutes late, happy to see many people we recognized in the church, including David and Ginger Vuich. They are prominent lobbyists in Washington, DC. Ginger has held executive positions in Washington for over 30 years and was also former Chief of Staff for John Kasich and a staffer for Helen. David, who once headed up the now defunct SAVA organization, has compiled over forty years experience in the defense, aerospace, security, energy and transportation related industries. He has held executive positions with several U.S. and International firms, including currently serving as Chairman of the Board at xCube International Corporation .
Nikola Loncar, wife Maureen, and Zvezdana Scott, drove in from Philadelphia, all Tesla Science Foundation members. (http://teslasciencefoundation.com/) President Loncar recalled how Helen Delich Bentley had been a main speaker for the 200 Year Celebration of Serbs in America, held in Philadelphia on Vidovdan, 2014.
Multi-talented Danielle Sremac, President of the Serbian Institute was there, (www.serbianinstitute.com/), as well as Drina Vastelic Rajic, the Executive Officer and Senior Advisor at the Republic of Srpska Office for Cooperation, Trade and Investment. Both ladies live in the Washington area, as does Drina’s son, Sasha Rajic, who was also in attendance.
We were happy to see Bosko and Evelyn Vucenovic of Farrell-Hermitage and York, PA there, also representing the Serbian Chetniks of Hermitage. Their Greek friend, Pano, accompanied them.
Alexandra Brkic Griffin was present with her family. Alex worked for Helen in her office as a staffer and relayed how Helen had given her to guard, 26 filing cabinets full of things Helen did for the Serbs! (Draga Dragasevich, former English Editor of the Voice of the Canadian Serbs, was so sorry she was unable to be in attendance, but she recalled meeting Alex Brkic and Helen at American Serbian Days in Washington, DC in the 1990’s.)
After the parastos service at the church, we were able to meet with John Jaggers, the campaign manager for all of Maryland for Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump. Key Kidder, Helen’s biographer was also present. Key is a descendant of Francis Scott Key (Star Spangled Banner lyricist) and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It is always such a pleasure to meet up again with Stephanie Lalich Adams, the daughter of the famous WWII hero, Nick Lalich, of OSS fame, who with the help of General Draza Mihailovich and his Serbian Chetniks, rescued 512 U.S. airmen from behind German occupied lines in the former Yugoslavia. Stephanie was accompanied by her fiancée, Craig, and her lovely daughter, Alexandra Rose, who had no trouble at all in making friends with the Malich children: Philip, Luke and Sophia. Stephanie recalls how it was Helen Delich Bentley who made sure her parents’ wedding was covered in major newspapers, internationally! When the honeymooners arrived in Rio de Janiero, they were surprised to find themselves on the front pages of the newspapers there, thanks to Helen’s quick work as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun.
The beautiful parastos was arranged by Greek lawyer, Michael Kosmas, Helen’s lawyer and confidant. Helen always thought of Michael as an adopted son. It was Michael who hosted a delicious “banquet” at his home afterwards, not only with the food and wine, but with the viewing of his magnificent home, full of valuable icons and other Greek treasures. Michael had prepared two pans of koljivo(wheat) mixed with parsley, nuts, pomegranate seeds and sugar, and decorated on top with almonds forming Helen’s initials: “+HDB.” He had the huge pans blessed in the church before serving to guests in his home in Helen’s memory.
Alexander Radichevich, retired meteorologist for the U.S. Commerce Department’s NOAA National Weather Service, proudly displayed his SLOBODA newspaper from the Serb National Defense, heralding raising funds in Helen’s memory for Hilandar Monastery in Greece and sharing his “Doctors without borders” map with his markings showing Washington, DC, Serbia, and Hilandar. Mr. Radichevich brought a donation with him, as did many present. But its not too late if YOU want to help too.
On how best to memoralize Helen, Michael Kosmos had consulted with Abbot Methodios of Hilandar, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, and representatives of the Serbian people on the Holy Mountain, . It was decided to help restore the ancient Cell of the Transfiguration, a short walk from Hilandar. This Cell dates back to at least the 13th century, and was the home of the Serbian monk Domentijan when he wrote his famous hagiography of St. Sava in the middle of the 13th century. In modern times it has fallen into disrepair and is not habitable, but the fathers of Hilandar would like to restore this ancient site for prayer and habitation by Serbian Orthodox monks.
The American SRBOBRAN of September 21, 2016, states that donors can make checks payable to “The Friends of Mount Athos.” Write “HDB Hilandar” on the memo line and send to Dr. Robert W. Allison, Secretary for the Americas, the Friends of Mount Athos, 45 N. Saunders Road, Greene, Maine, 04236.
One of the first to donate was Alex Malich of Cranberry Twp, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The personable Pennsylvania lawyer was present at both the church service and dinner, along with wife Zora, and children Philip, Luke and Sophia. The Malichs also brought along with them, Dr. Natalie Pavlovich, retired Director of Nursing at Duquesne University.
Alex Malich and Helen Delich Bentley had worked together on many projects ranging from Serb Net to Serb Relief. While working as a journalist in Belgrade during the war, Alex remembers personally witnessing Helen urging the American journalists to be more fair in their coverage.
Knowing that Helen was quite ill, Alex visited with her on Vidovdan, June 28, of this year, as he knew the day would be meaningful to both of them. Unable to sit up, Alex said she blew him a few kisses, repeated a few times that God has been very, very good to her, and her last words of counsel to Alex were, “Stay Serbian!”
Malich said her advice to the newcomers was that despite economic decline, there was still the most opportunity here and that they can still make it in this country, but have to work very hard. Another sage bit of advice was to the next generation of Serbs, the old Serbian saying, “Never do anything that you would be embarrassed about if your parents ever found out.”
Alex remembers her being a delegate of the Las Vegas SNF Convention in Windsor, Ontario, in 2006. At that convention, Helen proudly displayed her parents’ lodge badges, lovingly recalling their hard life but good deeds. He also recalled that Helen had gotten her start with an SNF scholarship.
Mentioning the SNF scholarship fund made me remember how Helen Delich was a journalist for my father’s short –lived, but so important American SERB LIFE magazine of 1948. The monthly not only documented Nick Lalich’s WWII diary word for word, but also contained one or two of Helen’s articles in each issue, wherein she would recall LIFE IN A MINING CAMP (Ely/Ruth, Nevada, where she lived close to the famous Popovich Brothers family of Chicago) or give advice to the Serbian youth, asking them to outstep all other youths in America, to willingly give a lift to anyone who is making an effort to get ahead. “Give extra support, “ she preached. “Extend your hand. Help anyone of your own kind get ahead, no matter what field.”
Helen certainly did that and so much more. Helen, who made the “big time” with a full-page spread in the New York “Sunday News” of December 7, 1947, at age 25, never quit working for America and her Serbian people. What an honor and privilege it was to be present for her parastos.
I must have thanked Dane Medich a hundred times (105 by the time we reached Moon Township), for being so kind, picking me up in my home and delivering me back home again, a long day (9:00 AM-10:30 PM, even longer for Dane who had to return to Irwin, PA). But I can honestly say when he dropped me off by my garage door, headlights on so I could see the automatic opener, I excitedly turned around and told him that instead of feeling tired or exhausted, I was indeed energized, my entire being was feeling so “Joyful!” having been able to participate with Dane on such a memorable day, representing the SNF and the SRBOBRAN, honoring such a fine lady who did so much for her Serbian people. And then, recalling as a Super Bonus, to ability to share great Dane Medich/Mim Bizic stories all the way down and up the Baltimore/Columbia MD expressways and back. He’s a fine man! A true gentleman! Our Vice President of the Serb National Federation, Dane Medich!
October 5, 2016
Draga Dragasevic, former English section editor of the Voice of the Canadian Serbs, reminded me that besides being with Helen at the Serb National Federation Centennial in Pittsburgh in 2001, on the invitation of Bora Dragasevic, then President of the Srpska Narodna Odbranu u Kanadi, Helen was the main speaker at Serbian Day in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in 1990 and 1991. Bora also paid tribute to Helen, "our Kosovka devojka," in his autobiography "Stopama predaka". The SNO paper, the Glas Kanadski Srba (Voice of Canadian Serbs), wrote about Helen many times, including a 90th birthday tribute from the pen of her old friend, Olga Markovich. And when Draga Dragasevic was president of the now defunct Canadian Serbian Council, a banquet was held at Toronto's Sheraton Centre in Helen's honour, also in 1990. The Canadian Serbs were also very proud of Helen and the few times she visited them in the great north, hundreds and hundres of Serbs came to greet her and shake her hand.
She met with American journalists in Serbia to push for balanced reporting.
She helped the Yugoslav sailors stuck in the port of Baltimore during sanctions.
She traveled to Serbia numerous times and met with all of the leaders, and also met with and lobbied everyone in Washington to support the Serbs.
She gave C-Span speeches in Congress for the Serbs and lined up other members of Congress to support her.
She organized Serbian delegations to represent our side when there were Congressional hearings re Kosovo and Yugoslavia, and rallied American Serbs to attend.
She appeared on television new shows/debates to defend the Serbs.
When time for re-election came the Croats and Moslems rallied against her. No Serbian support.
She corresponded and constantly talked to Eagleburger and others pushing them to change their minds.
She helped many refugees.
She led the Serbs on Vidovdan 1989 in Kosovo and fought alongside Bob Stone to get the American Embassy to lend the American flag for display there.
She donated her collection of Serbian books to the Joe Buley Monastery Library in Grayslake.
She donated Serbian artwork to the Eastern American Diocese.
She employed Serbs.
She published editorials to support the Serbs.
She worked with the Bishops on the Serbian cause.
She backed and appeared at Serbian demonstrations in the United States.
She lobbied for the Serbs.
Just a few years ago she traveled to Montenegro to provide help and advice with developing the ports.
She supported the drive to recognize Draza Mihailovich as the savior of 500 downed American airmen.
She fought the Albanian lobby.
She helped form SerbNET.
She spoke at Serb events around the country, and makes an appearance on the film THE POPOVICH BROTHERS OF SOUTH CHICAGO (available on tv via Amazon).
She was the main speaker at the Mother’s Day Prayer for Peace at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Pittsburgh during the bombing of Serbia sponsored by the KSS.
She arranged for a donated bust of Nikola Tesla by sculptor Matt Rebrovic from Pennsylvania to be delivered via her friends in the shipping industry to Belgrade University in 2006, in time for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Tesla.
Gino Piroli wrote about this in the Beaver County Times newspaper: http://www.timesonline.com/piroli-rebrovic-made-sculptures-of-nikola-tesla/article_1e364517-5ec1-55b5-a9ea-ccdf2d4b2022.html
She is deserving of our praise. Vjecnaja Pamjat, dear Helen! Memory Eternal.
HDB : November 28, 1923 - August 6, 2016. There was a lot accomplished between that "dash!"
PA Attorney, Alex Malich, Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, and Dr. Nenad Janicijevich, in Philadelphia where Helen was a guest speaker, honored at the "200 Years of Serbs in America" Celebration, 2014.
Celebrating Helen's 90th birthday: Rose Gantner, Mim Bizic, Stephanie Lalich Adams and Caroline Adams, 2014.
+ Zhito made for Helen
The 3 Malich children: Luke, Sophia and Philip Malich of Cranberry, PA in St. Matthew's Church for HDB's parastos on Sept. 24, 2016.
The beautiful ceiling in St. Matthew's Orthodox Church.
Parastos for Helen with friends from far and near.
Friends gather after the parastos, including front leaders, Danielle Sremac of the Serbian Institute, and Nikola Lonchar from the Tesla Science Foundation.
Dane Medich, VP of the SNF, Alex Brkich Griffin who worked for Congresswoman Bentley for many years, and Bobby Vuchenovic of Hermitage, PA parish.
The Vucenovichs and Greek friend, Pano, Alex Medich, Mim Bizic, Stepahnie Lalich Adams and John Jaggers, the campaign manager covering all of Maryland, for Donald Trump. In front, Sophia Malich and Alexandra Rose make a "T" with their crossed hands to make us smile at their ingenuity!
Dane Medich, Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer, 2nd most powerful man in the House of Representatives, and Mim Bizic, author.
Ginger Vuich, Helen's attorney, Michael Kosmas, and Helen's biographer, Key Kidder. Key is a relative to Francis Scott Key who wrote the lyrics to the "Star Spangled Banner" and to F. Scott Fitzgerald of literary fame.
Zora, Luke and Philip Malich and David Vuich, of D.C.
At our host's, Attorney Michael Kosmas home for a luncheon dinner held in Helen's memory. Drina and her son, Sasha, are in the background.
Drina Vlastelic Rajic, rep. of trade in Republika Srpska, in front of a few beautiful photographs of the late +Helen Delich Bentley in her earlier years.
Drina holds a copy of my father's 1st AMERICAN SERB LIFE magazine which looked more like a glossy newspaper, but Helen made the front cover!
There she is! Making the big time in a New York newspaper at such a young age!
Here's Mim, all excited about sharing her father, Milan M. Karlo's issues of the American SERB LIFE magazine from 1948, where Helen D. Bentley had an article in each one! These magazine issues captured what was going on with the American Serbs that year, whether it was church building in Stuebenville, OH or marking an anniversary date in Gary, Indiana with the blessing of the WWII Memorial. Helen's articles included what life was like in the mining camps of Nevada she knew, growing up. Most importantly, these magazines captured the story of the 500+ U.S. airmen rescued by General Draza Mihailovich and his Serbian Chetniks during WWII in Operation Halyard, which was covered up by our State Department for 60 years so as not to affront Communist Tito. Thanks to Captain Nick Lalich's diary, the day by day story, complete with all photos, was able to be told befor the magazine was forced out of business.
Philip, Luke, Sophia Malich and Alexandra Rose Adams.
Zvezdana Scott tries to teach Mim and Nikola how to do a selfie!