A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

Bouquet of Serbian immigrants who blossomed in America

Commemorating the Serbian National Holiday (June 28 - Vidovdan or St. Vitus Day) and the 150th Anniversary of Nikola Tesla's birth, the Serbian American community presents this bouquet of Serbian immigrants who blossomed in America over the last two centuries, contributing to her efflorescence in all realms of human endeavor. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Serbs joined the waves of immigration to the New World in laying the very foundations upon which America continues to grow and prosper.

The earliest documented Serb in this country was George Fisher Shagich, who, after participating in the liberation of Serbia from the oppressive Islamic Ottoman yoke, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1813.

In addition to a large number of nameless pioneers who worked in various mines, on roads and railroads, transforming and gradually civilizing the wilderness of a relatively still empty continent, stand out the names of two globally famous Serbian American scientists: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and Michael Pupin (1854-1935), without whose great inventions and discoveries wide-spread electrification and long distance communication, along with the rest of our highly industrialized way of life, would be impossible.

Many Serbian Americans valiantly served in the U.S. military forces during two world, and later wars. For their gallantry and valor some of them received our country's highest military decoration - the Congressional Medal of Honor: Louis Cukela (awarded both the Navy and Army Medals of Honor), Mitchell Paige, Lance Sijan, and Mele "Mel" Vojvodich (the Legion of Merit). A few reached the highest ranks, such as Admiral Steve Mandarich (laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery).

In the educational field of the early second half of the 20th century it is sufficient to name professors Milorad Draskovich and Wayne Vucinich of Stanford University, Michael B. Petrovich of the University of Wisconsin, and Alex N. Dragnich of Vanderbilt University. In the political life of that time we find: State Senators Rose Ann Vuich (first woman elected to her State's Senate), George Zenovich and John Begovich of California; U.S. Congresswoman Helen Delich-Bentley; somewhat later U.S. Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, and most recently Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Illinois' U.S. Representative Melissa Bean (Milica Luburic). In the field of entertainment we encounter the Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden (Mladen Sekulovich), Brad Dexter (Boris Milanovich), best known for his role as Harry Luck in The Magnificent Seven; film director Peter Bogdanovich as well as actresses Lollita Davidovich, Catherine Oxenberg and Milla Jovovich.

Fleeing from both Fascism and Communism, numerous highly skilled Serbian professionals quickly integrated into the triumphant US society, contributing greatly to America's overall growth and development. These included: the great poetdiplomat Jovan Duck; the Pulitzer Prize winners Charles Simic and Walt Bogdanich and the Oscar-winning screenwriter, playwright and novelist Steve Tesich.

Seven Serbian American scientists and engineers participated in the Apollo 11 Project: Slavoljub Vujic, Petar Gajic, Danilo Bojic, Milojko Vucelic, Milisav Surbatovic, Petar Galovic and David Vuich (director of public relations).

Among the leading Serbian American business people must be mentioned: Alex Macheskee (publisher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer), Milan Puskar (founder of generic pharmaceutical company Mylan Laboratories Inc.), Milan Mandaric (owner of the English soccer club Portsmouth), William G. Salatich (president of Gillette North America), Micheal Djordjevich (President of Bank of Southeast Europe International), and Desa T. Wakeman (former President, U. S. Lease Financing San Francisco).

Among popular American athletes are: Pete Maravich (Basketball Hall of Fame); Bill Vukovich (International Motorsports Hall of Fame) and 14 current NBA basketball stars, including Vlade Divac and Pedja Stojakovic.

Some of today's most important Serbian American researchers and educators, among hundreds of other outstanding scholars, are professors Dragoslav Siljak of SCU (contributor to the NASA Saturn V and Skylab projects), Petar Kokotovich of UCSB (winner of the prestigious IEEE education leadership medal), Dimitrije Djordjevic (history) of UCSB, Pasko Rakic (Yale University School of Medicine), Miodrag Radulovacki (College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago), Branislav Vidic (Georgetown University Medical Center), Slobodan I. Macura (Mayo Clinic Medical College of Medicine), Dragan Svrakic (School of Medicine, Washington University), Radmila J. Gorup of Columbia University (linguistics and literary criticism), and Slobodan Curcic (Byzantine Studies, Princeton University). Attracted by America's religious and political freedoms and economic opportunities, the most recent Serbian immigrants, most of them proud graduates of the University of Belgrade, Serbia, fill the ranks of our Silicon Valley young computer scientists and engineers, as well as the fields of medicine, biology, electronics, social sciences and humanities.

Restricted in scope by the nature of the national gathering for which it was prepared, this commemorative booklet is significant because it provides valuable insight into the careers of a considerable number of notable American Serbs whose honorable contributions to this great country should not be overlooked.

George Vid Tomashevich, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology
State University of New York, College of Buffalo


SA

 

People Directory

Sanja Beštić

Sanja Bestic (Сања Бештић, Sanja Beštić) was born in Belgrade, Serbia on June 13, 1982. The civil war in the former Yugoslavia broke out when Sanja was ten (10) years old. She would continue to live through that war and the two (2) that followed. Sanja felt the greatest impact of the wars during the Belgrade bombings in 1999. Nonetheless, she attended the Zemunska Gimnazija for high school while simultaneously studying at the renowned theater studio and acting school run by Mika Aleksic, the famous theater arts professor.

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Publishing

Sebastian Press Mission Statement

Welcome to the Sebastian Press Publishing House of the Western Diocese!

Founded in 2006 and named in honor of a first American born Orthodox priest, Fr. Sebastian Dabovic, a pioneer of the Orthodox Church in the West, Sebastian Press is one of the largest and most active publishers of Christian Orthodox publications on the West Coast.

Our hard working staff seeks to fruitfully enrich and deepen the faith of Christians from all over the world with a variety of titles, embracing a diversity of Orthodox Traditions, while also presenting the works of Serbian theologians.

Sebastian Press is building its reputation for promoting high quality theological, historical, ecclesiastical, spiritual, hagiographical, iconographical, philosophical and patristic writings in its repertoire. Also, due to growing demand, we are giving special attention to the publishing of new titles for children, teens, and families, including video and audio programs.

The primary mission of Sebastian Press is to motivate and inspire its readers to seek a deeper union with the God-Man, through the written word of Orthodox Christian material, both on the scholarly and popular level, and to give glory to the life-giving Trinity.

Sebastian Press is located in Los Angeles, at the headquarters of the Western Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.