with Baba Mim....
Check out my other websites too:
Not Retired From Learning! http://www.notretiredfromlearning.com
Bizic Education Enterprises.
"The Power of Three"--> www.mimbizic.com
And the Moon Township Historical Society website:
WITH PIOUS GRAVITY: Chronicles of the Volunteers from America 1914-1918 is the book written by Erceg. Before this publicaiton, VERY little was known or published about the gallant men, some who would become worldclass heroes. Only their families knew their stories or the actions they saw. "What little was recorded in universisty of church archives has lain nearly hidden from public view for seventy-seven years." (Book published in 1995)
These banners were unveiled Oct. 16, 1916 in Gary.
(Click lower right hand corner of photo to enlarge.)
In front of the Gary, Indiana YMCA building, wearing newly-issued boots and Serbian sjackacas (hats). Each is holding a small American flag. This photo appeared in the Gary Evening Post of December 31, 1917. St. Sava Gary volunteers!
In another photo taken by the N.Y. Times, the caption read: "These men were mobilized chiefly from Serbian communities in Indiana and were officered by Frenchmen. They carried with them to the Serbian front three American flags, consecrated in the Serbian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis before their departure. THe photograph shows them at a French port on their way to join the Army."
(Click lower right hand corner of photo to enlarge.)
Serbian Volunteers, WWI: Dane Kokotovich, Mile Paripovich, Ljuban Kokotovich, Mile Pocuca, Marko Repac, Voja Glumicic, Bue Repac, Dane Varicak, Savo Radovich. Courtesy: St. Sava Church Archives
The Vayagich Brothers (brothers and cousins!) were just like Jug Bogdan and the Devet Jugovici from Kosovo in 1389! But, luckily for us, all ten of them survived the war, although Mihailo suffered a shattered leg. The oldest, Risto Vayagich, 5th from left, and wearing a banner, won Serbia's highest medal for heroism. They are shown on Gary's stage with their priest and church president.
Photo courtesy of Steve Boljanich.
At the Serb National Federation (SNF) Board Room in Pittsburgh, PA (March, 2013), admiring the old painting on velvet of Jug Bogdan (center) surrounded by his nine sons. The youngest son, Bosko Jugovich, is shown holding the flag and hiding it before they all perished at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. Many Serbians have paintings of this famous family, knowing the Legends of Kosovo, just like all of these WWI volunteers from Gary knew them too!
The caption of this photo from Ted Erceg's book, WITH PIOUS GRAVITY, reads on p.41:
"Jovo Sever, a volunteer from Gary shown with Serbia's highest award for valor, the Karageorge Star with crossed sabers in gold, and two other gold medals. He singlehandedly captured a Bulgarian battalion and was the most decorated of the volunteers from North America. After the war, he lived out his life in Serbia as a national hero, but in America he remained virtually unknown."
Courtesy of St. Sava Church Archives.
I asked Ted Erceg to give me more biographical information about him, and even I was surprised! He's been working so hard all his life for his beloved Serbian people!
2/1978: Selected to Sunday School Board, by President Zivojin Cokic.
2/1983: Pres. Joe Sever selected Ted to Church Board.
6/1983: Served as General Chairman of first eleven Serb Festivals, 1983-1993.
2/1986: Selected 1st VP by Gordan Gerbick; selected Secretary of new church Bldg. Com & Masonry Com.
2/1987: Elected President of church board for 6 terms: 1987-1982; Member of Diocesan Council 1987-1992 with Bishop Irinej and two terms under Bishop Longin, 2001-2002, total 8 years.
5/1987: Supervised constuction of new church in Merrillville through 1992.
5/1987: Received Communion at the Consecration of the Foundation in the new church, being the first communicant, by +Bishop Irinej, +Fr. Jovan Marcetich and Fr. Jovan Todorovich.
5/1987: Recipient of the Diocesan Medal of Merit from Bishop Irinej.
11/1987: General Co-Chairan with his wife, Mrs. Donna Petrovich Erceg of 11 church anniversaries 1987-2005, plus with Mr. Suvajac 2006; total 14 anniversary chairmanships.
6/1996: Published "With Pious Gravity" @ W.W.I volunteers.
6/1999: Guest speaker at the Serbian Unity Congress in Washington, DC.
9/1999 Edited the church handbook, "Guide to St. Sava Church."
5/2000: Wrote the English inscriptiion for the W.W.II Serbian monument.
5/2001: Donated W.W.I Volunteers plaque.
11/2004: Awarded the Cross of St. Sava, second degree, the Serbian Orthodox Church's highest award, by Bishop Longin.
2/2005: Served four months as acting President during Mr. Galich's illness; complied inventory of physical assets of St. Sava Church.
1/2006: Co-chairman Membership Questionaire with Gordon Germick.
7/2007 Second year as original member of the church Museum Committee.
9/2007: Founding member of the St. Sava Church Cultural Center Committee.
8/2008: Recipient of Distinguished Hoosier Award from Governor Mitchell Daniels.
7/2011: Chairman of Serbian Day, 1992-2011=19 years.
3/2013: Chairman St. Sava 100th Anniversary Yearbook.
Ted served his St. Sava Church in Merrillville in every office on the Executive Board for 25 consecutive years. Besides all the above you see, he was Chairman of the church anniversary program for 13 times; St. Sava's Day program for 12; assisted the priest in blessing graves on Memorial Day for 25 consecutive years; cho-chaired the founding of the St. Sav Historical Society. All church work was done gratis.
Ted was grateful for meeting with and speaking privately with Patriarch Pavle on two occasions, also for having the privilege of serving with Bishop Irinej and Bishop Longin. Not only did Ted receive the Gracanica Medal of merit in 1984, but several Gramatas in later years.
Steve Gacesa allowed Ted to set the first foundation block in 1986, and let Ted lay the last stone, 1991, in the new St. Sava Merrillville Church!
Steve Gacesa passed away on Thursday, April 21, 2005 at the age of 78. He was born on January 9, 1927 in New Brighton, the son of the late Milic and Mila (Dakich) Gacesa. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He was a retired general contractor and master builder, specializing in masonry design. Steve won the highest award from the Illinois/ Indiana Masonry Council and they also presented him with the Gold Medal Award for Excellence on May 4, 1991. V. Rev. Fr. Stevan Stepanov officiated.
Jovan Vukmarovich wrote in the Diocesan Observer, page 8, date not visible, about Steve Gacesa meeting Bishop Irinej at Shadeland. At the urging of his mother, Steve offered his services free of charge for the building of the Shadeland church. He would provide his workers at regular pay on Saturdays and Sundays. Bishop Irinej was to provide the scaffolds, etc. Thusly, a gigantic fund raising began to build the church at Shadeland. Jovan and many friends donated. "Then construction began. The Observer wrote in each issue of the progress. One issue wrote of a Mr. Savin from Canada who came with a crew to install the roof. His brother, Ivan Savin, resided in Aliquippa and was a friend of mine. And so the church in Shadeland was built and consecrated.
Subsequently, there developed a personal relationship between Bishop Irinej and later Metropolitan, and Steve Gacesa. One a Prelate with a vision to save his church in the Diaspora. The other, with a profound faith in God who gave him the skills to build churches. Thusly, Gracanica was built. The rest is history."
Aliquippa's Jovan Vukamarovich (nicknamed SKUP), a great historian of all things Serbian, finsihed his tribute thusly: "Time moves on. Principals die. People forget. Whenever people see the Serbian Church at Shadeland or Gracanica (or St. Sava's in Merrillville), without Metropolitan Irinej or Steve Gacesa, it would not have happened."
St. George Marketing of Valparaiso, Indiana
Great Lakes Graphics, Skokie, IL. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 95-77219.
In his book, Ted lists the names of the 122 veterans known to have returned from the war out of the 450 that left Gary. "These men were recruited on their own free will."
They knew what the consequences were: If they survived and returned to America, they would not be entitled to any Veteran benefits (as America was not yet in the war!), nor any hospitalization or treatment for injuries received while in service to a foreign government. They would be eligible for any benefit offered by the Serbian government, provided they remain in Serbia.
The St. George unit of Volunteers from Gary was organized June 21, 1916.
Mike Erceg's Honorary Discharge from the Serbian Army was issued to volunteers returning to Ameica from Dubrovnik in 1920, in the English and Serbian language. Erceg's signature corrected the misspelling of his name, and he signed it in English.
SO OUR CHILDREN
Ted Erceg's book is dedicated to ALL the volunteers from America who served in WWI, but he also had a BEAUTIFUL message for his grandchildren Nicholas Mandich, Natalie, Thomas and Andrew Thorstad, Henry and Marin Meyer, and "those that follow."
His given name was Mile, but they called him Mike.
He never saw you, or held you, or got ot know you the way some greatgrandfathers do.
Next time you get a chance to boast about something, but choose not to, that might be him advising you;
Next time you stand your ground for something good and worthwhile, that's probably him again;
and if you get to do something really big that helps a lot of people, that'll be him patting you on the back.
Along the way, when things go wrong or something scares you, look it in the eye the way he did, without flinching, and fix it.
As you grow older, you'll see him more and more often!
SERBIAN DEFENDER, Age 14
Ted Erceg wrote that this poster of a wounded Serbian soldier, age 14, was an appeal to the English for aid to Serbia. 1915. Archives.
Ted lives with his wife, Donna, in Valpariso, Indiana. A war hero like his father, Ted served in the Korean War, and in December, 1950, was with the American forces as they escaped from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, where Erceg called air and naval gunnery strikes on the advancing enemy. The outnumbered GI's fought their way out, bringing with them to safety 100,000 civilian refugees, whose suffering in the mountains from the bitter cold, hunger and and unrelenting enemy pursuing them, created a picture of human tragedy starkly reminiscent of the 1915 genocide.
Following graduation from Horace Mann High School in Gary, Indiana in 1948, Ted joined the Army. He was a radio operator in the Korean War. He participated in the Inchon invastion with the Marines and the evacuation from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He was recently selected to record his experience in Korea for the Library of Congress.
Ted married Donna Petrovich Erceg in 1954. They have 3 daughters, six grandchidlren and three great-grandchildren. Ted says that Donna assisted him in EVERY task he ever undertook at St. Sava's.
Career wise, Ted was a sales representative in institutional pharmaceutical products distribution for 35 years. After retirement, he returned to his former employer as an outside marketing consultant for seven more years at hospitals throughout the U.S.
Not through yet, Ted was hired in 2003 by the Valpariso Community School as Director of Public Information.
Ted was a certified athletic official, refereeing high school football games in northwest Indiana between 1965 and 1987. He played and coached the Valparaiso University Club hockey team for three seasons. Although not formally empoyed anymore, he still assists in coaching at Valpariso High School.
Besides his wonderful book, "With Pious Gravity," Ted also authored five articles published in Serb World Magazine on such subjects as Gavrilo Princip (2004) , Serbs in the Kirk Yard neighborhood of Gary (1997), about his Godfather Nick "Jumbo" Strincevich (2005), Gary's first major leaguer, and about Gary, Indiana.
He was also the author of the 1998 article "Serbians in World War I" for the Serbian National Federation Yearbook.
Well done, Ted Erceg!
Just found: 4/13, 2013 PM:
Ted's story about Steve Gacesa and the building of St. Sava, Merrillville in the Diocesan Observer after Steve passed away, no date, but on page 8.
Steve and I learned much about each other during the years he managed the construction of our new St. Sava Church. Often we were under a great deal of stress, he to build the perfect church while dealing with contractors and workers, and I to generate income from a mostly blue collar congregation which would have to pay for it.
We members of the church board knew only that we had the right man. Beyond that, the future held many questions.
How excellent a builder was Steve? A visit to Shadeland, Gracanica or St. Sava Church is ample proof of his skills, this, in spite of his being kept off the scaffolds during recurring bouts with diabetes. Climbing high with blurred vision on a ten-story structure was dangerous. Several times I called him down to prevent his falling. In never surrendering to illness or adversity, Steve showed not only an indomitable will, but something akin to courage as well.
To each other's surprise, we discovered that beneath our moderate, Christian-like exteriors, we were prone at times to stifle our patience with each other until it could no longer be contained. On those few occasions, Fr. Jovan Todorovich used his priestly office to pacify our differing opinions. We did, and managed to start each new day with a better understanding of each other. After the first few weekly meetings, Steve was on a first-name basis with our whole team. He spoke in his Boss' voice when the subject was technical, but when the talk turned to finances or obstacles outside his responsibilities, he would step back, rivet his attention on the problem at hand, and later, if he could find a way to help, approach me with a solution. He was never an outside, but even before the steel frame was erected, he was one of us.
Here was a man who claimed no fluency in Serbian, who never received formal church teeaching, and never wore a mask to cover his inadequacies. He was, I firmly believe, a complete believer in the Serbian Orthodox Church, when occasion demanded it he could be tough, but for the most part, was soft spoken, gentlemanly, and somewhat meditative. As the season passed and the church rose in grandeur, I perceived that his vision of a church for for it to be built by master craftsmen but through the eyes of an iconographer.
For Steve, any building can be a picture, but a church is an icon.
These influences may have been imparted to him by his mother, or during his time with Bishop Irinej when Steve was in the company of dedicated clergy for extended periods, and was inspired more by the ethereal aspects of church building, rather than only its structural needs. Whatever Steve missed in Sunday School, he absorbed at Gracanica.
I will be eternally grateful to Steve for saving the last stone for me to lay in place. It is the keystone in the arch of the north apse, at about the 90 foot height. A poster-sized photograph of the event looks down at me as I write. His talent was a gift to share with others. His project, our church, won a presitgious award. When he retired after its completion, he said he'd learned much about congregations and church administration. I replied that if he were my mentor in my younger days, I probably would not have left the construction field.
We said good-bye with the same respect and friendship we had offered each other every morning for the better part of five years. That is when it occurred to me how I will remember Steve Gacesa--a master builder with the heart of an iconographer! " ----Ted Erceg