Revolutionary Hristo Botev, Fallen for Bulgaria's Freedom and Independence Remembered on June 2
June 2 (BTA) - On June 2, Bulgaria honours Bulgarian revolutionary Hristo Botev, his group of volunteers, and the fallen for Bulgaria's freedom and independence. Observances are held throughout the day and sirens are sounded at noon across the country to signal 2 minutes of silence honouring the heroes. The date marks the anniversary of Botev's heroic death after a battle with regular Ottoman troops and irregular bashi-bazouk bands at the foot of Okolchitsa Peak (Western Balkan Range) on May 20, 1876.
Botev (1848-1876), a poet, journalist and freedom fighter, led a detachment of armed volunteers from Romania into Bulgaria after the April Uprising against Ottoman rule broke out in 1876.
June 2 was first marked as a Day of Botev in Vratsa (Northwestern Bulgaria) and Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria) in 1884. The official commemoration at Okolchitsa Peak dates from 1901, when it was attended by several members of his detachment. When the Julian Calendar was adopted in Bulgaria in 1916, the observance was moved to June 2 (exactly a year after the previous celebration) even though Botev death anniversary falls on June 1, because 1900 was a leap year in the Julian Calendar and a non-leap year in the Gregorian Calendar.
Despite several changes in the manner of marking and official designation, the date has always been highly emotional for Bulgarians.
At the roll call, the names of the prominent people who laid their lives for this country's freedom and independence are called out, after which "the thousands of known and unknown heroes" are also remembered. The idea is that the fallen are forever on the roll of the Bulgarian Armed Forces.
"It is up to our will whether we will be waiving high the flag of Bulgarian freedom, or we will be paying homage to it only in the museums. Whether dignity will overcome apathy or we will seek solace only in the feats of the heroes in history text books," President Rumen Radev said in his speech delivered in the central town of Kalofer on the occasion of the observance of Botev and Bulgaria's fallen sons.
The ceremony in Kalofer was attended by Vice President Iliana Iotova, who said that in the coming days the Ukrainian village of Zadunaivka will host an exhibition about the famous Bulgarian revolutionary and poet's life and work. The house where Hristo Botev lived while teaching in that village has been turned into a museum with the help of the Bulgarian State.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov also paid respects to those who fell for Bulgaria's freedom and independence. In his Facebook profile, the Prime Minister wrote that peace, human rights and understanding are upheld through actions on a daily basis. "Let's be proud of our forefathers and follow the European path they laid out for us!".
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov and Chief of Defence Admiral Emil Eftimov laid wreaths in front of the monument to Shoumen's (Northeast Bulgaria) fallen in the wars.
"On this day, June 2, Botev and his volunteers' self-sacrifice are the symbol, but we are honouring all those Bulgarians who have given their lives for Bulgaria's liberation," Karakachanov said, stressing the importance of knowing history and being Bulgarians, above all.
Botev's Day was also marked in Moldova on the Bulgarian Embassy's initiative. Flowers and wreaths were laid in front of the Bulgarian revolutionary's monument in the capital of Chisinau during a ceremony attended by Bulgarian Ambassador in Moldova Evgueni Stoytchev, diplomats from the Embassy, representatives of the Bulgarian community in Moldova, teachers from the Vasil Levski Bulgarian Lyceum and historians, among others. NV/MY