The 28th of July 1918, Serbia Day, United States of America

– The organization of Serbia Day was initiated by a Serbian representative in the USA, Ljubomir Mihajlović, who suggested that the 28th of July, on the fourth anniversary since Austro-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia, be celebrated in the United States of America as a ”day when two principles came into conflict – the first is to rule another by force, and the second is to secure freedom to all nations”

– The goal: to highlight as much as possible the role of Serbia in the First World War as well as the importance of the Yugoslav question.

– Support from the US senior officials headed by President Woodrow Wilson and State Secretary Robert Lansing. Woodrow Wilson had a positive view of the Serbs, and it is believed that this was the result of his acquaintance with the great scientist Mihajlo Pupin who was his personal friend.

– 27th of July 1918, US State Secretary Robert Lansing sent an invitation to all American citizens, which was published in the New York Times, to gather to their churches on Sunday the 28th of July in order express their sympathy to the ”brave Serbian people”.

– 28th of July 1918, the Serbian flag was raised over the White House, as well as in all the buildings of public institutions in the capital city of the USA, in honor of the devotion of the Serbian people to the values that the two countries hold to.

– On a public gathering in a park, Secretary A. Đorđević, Dr. Albala and Dorčak held a speech.

– ”…almost the entire American press reported about the importance of that day. In many introductory articles with a sympathetic view.” (from a telegram by representative Mihajlović, 31st of July 1918)

– ”…the celebration on the 28th of July made the American public increasingly interested in our cause.” (from a report by representative Mihajlović on the 6th of August 1918)


The importance of the raising of the Serbian flag over the White House

– Gesture of honoring Serbia and Serbian victims during the Great War. A sense of admiration to the contribution by the Serbian people for civilized values of peace and freedom for humanity.

– Strong and honest show of support and compassion of the USA towards Serbia and the Serbian people in their fight against a far stronger adversary.

– For the first time in history, a flag of a foreign country flew over the White House. Only one more foreign flag was raised the same way, and that was the French flag in 1920.

– A symbol of our common libertarian values, peace, justice and freedom that both the Serbian and the American people respect and keep.

– By supporting a small country that stood up to defend its independence and which fought for its freedom and the completion of its mission of national liberation and unification, which doesn’t fight to maintain a colonial empire but rather for its own preservation, the American political establishment wanted to send a message not only to its allies but also other minority groups, that the USA is a country that supports true historically civilized values.

– The historical event that connects the two people.


A list of names of people who marked the Serbian-American
allied relations during the Great War

Robert Lansing
(New York, 1864 – New York, 1928), a lawyer and ideologically a conservative democrat. He was a legal advisor at the State Department during the Great War and afterwards the Secretary of State, during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, from 1915 to 1920. On the 27th of July 1918, Lansing called the American people of all faiths, which was published in the New York Times, to go to their churches on Sunday 28th of July in order to express their compassion towards the people of Serbia. Robert Lansing also wrote this during the Great War: ” When the history of this war is written down, its most glorious chapter will bear the title Serbia. The Serbian Army showed miraculous courage, while the Serbian people suffered greatly, such sacrifice and persistence can not go unnoticed –they must be rewarded.”

Dr. Edward W. Ryan (Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1883 – Tehran, 1923), a doctor and member of the American Red Cross – The American Red Cross mission sailed for Serbia on the 9th of September 1914 and arrived on the 16th of October 1914. It was comprised of 3 surgeons: Dr. Edward Ryan, Dr. James C. Donovan and Dr. William Ahern (all three of them graduated at the Faculty of Medicine of the Fordham University in New York) and twelve nurses who were led by Mrs. Mary Gladwin. One of the nurses was Agnes Gardner.

They treated wounded Serbs and then those who were sick from typhus. During the first occupation of Belgrade Dr. Ryan was named General Director of the military and civilian hospital on the 17th of November 1914. Two days later the Austrian troops entered the deserted capital (on the 19th of November 1914). Dr. Ryan himself said that, since the 25th of November, he was in charge of five hospitals located in around forty buildings, and he was assisted by nine Serbian doctors and around a hundred and fifty nurses while taking care of around 1.200 patients. He took charge of an asylum, a civilian hospital, a surgery hospital and a civil hospital in the city.

For the people of Belgrade the arrival of Ryan, according to eyewitness testimony, was like the American cavalry itself came to the rescue. Until they arrived, the hospital was under constant threat by artillery fire. The first thing that Dr. Ryan did was to put the American flag over the building. This act was immediately respected and the conditions were soon improved. Apart from saving thousands of people from the typhus, they carried out more than 8.000 surgical procedures and helped thousands of Serbian refugees around the country.

Since the United States entered the war in April 1917, Ryan found himself again on the Balkans – taking part in humanitarian missions at the Thessaloniki Front and Corfu. After that he was active in Finland, the Baltic and in Western Russia where, among other things, he organized the fight to end the typhus epidemic. He died of malaria in Tehran in 1923. Serbia posthumously ordained him with the White Eagle Medal.

The American Red Cross, by mid-November 1915, sent two more medical groups under the leadership of Dr. Ethan Flagg Butler and Dr. Ernest P. Magruder, both from Washington. They were assisted by Dr. James F. Donnelly from New York, Dr. Shadwood O. Beasley, Dr. Clapham P. King and Dr. Morton P. Lane with additional twelve nurses. In February 1916, the American Red Cross sent help again in the form of Dr. Earl Bishop Downer, while in March several additional nurses arrived, and afterwards Dr. Reynold M. Kirby-Smith who arrived from the US with three more nurses.

In total, three doctors and nine nurses from the US contracted typhus. Among them was Dr. Ryan while two of his colleagues died from the freckles. Dr. Donnelly died on the 22nd of February 1916 in Đevđelija while Dr. Magruder, who was transported to Belgrade to help Dr. Ryan, died in April 1916.

Helen Hartley Jenkins (1860-1934) was a known humanitarian and welfare worker of the American Red Cross. Her largest donations were to the Columbia University: she founded the first and largest student dorm Hartley Hall, she donated money for the building of the Philosophy Hall and she built and equipped a laboratory meant for researching electricity called Marcellus Hartley Laboratory. At the Columbia University she organized the education of nurses and medics, who would then train other girls in medical schools across America. She was also interested in the problems that immigrants faced, especially those of Slavic origin. In 1909, she founded the Slavonic Immigrant Home and gave two fully-equipped buildings for the housing of Serbian immigrant organizations. She also founded the Serbo-American Ecclesiastical Fund for helping Serbian schools and churches.

Together with Mihajlo Pupin, she was able to secure all of the required medical equipment for the mission by the American Red Cross under the leadership of Dr. Ryan in 1914.

John Frothingham (Brooklyn, 1879 – 1935) was an American attorney, industrialist and donor. He graduated from Harvard University, was a polyglot, played several instruments and composed music, while he was drawn to Serbia by its history and constant fight for freedom. He came into contact with Serbian tradition via groups who played Balkan ethno music in the USA. As an avid fan of Balkan music, the misfortune of Serbia during the Great War in summer of 1914 struck him so deep that he donated, on several occasions, medical equipment and money to the war-torn country. Good deeds became the meaning of his life whereby,  together with his wife Jelena Lozanić, the daughter of the President of the Science Academy Sima Lozanić, he donated, without interest, to Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Help arrived in the form of food, medical equipment, financing ships that transported Serbian volunteers to the Thessaloniki Front etc. An entire network of activities and people functioned in the USA at that moment.

One of John Frothingham’s many donations was sent to Serbia in November of 1914. That’s when he sent an entire hospital to Belgrade, both with equipment and the staff of around ten doctors and assistants. The cost of this hospital, with the additional materials, cost around 200.000 dollars at the time. It is considered that Frothingham, in total, donated to Serbia’s aid somewhere between two and three and a half of the country budget of the Kingdom back then. His cooperation with Mihajlo Pupin and hieromonk Nikolaj Velimirović lasted for more then two decades and, among other things, resulted in the founding, and financing until their end, two orphanages for Serbian war orphans:

– The first orphanage was the Serbian-American Home which was lead by very devoted Darinka Grujić-Radović, known by the name ”Mama Grujić” (President of the ”Serbian Woman” association). The home has moved through the entire battle line, from Belgrade to Bitolj, to Thesaloniki, Athens, Nice, then Belgrade again and in the end Sremska Kamenica where it lasted until the last orphan was educated and sent into the world.

– The second home was the home in Vranje which had around 600 kids. By some estimates, around 2.250 Serbian kids were saved. All of the children who were part of the home were taken care of and received scholarships in order to study at major universities and lyceums. John Frothingham founded the first vocational schools in Vranje and Kamenica in the Kingdom of SCS.

Frothingham also deserves some credit for the fact that the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, via Cordelius Severans, respected lawyer of he Carnegie Steel Plant – known today under the name U.S. Steel – helped to create the University Library in Belgrade.

He was awarded with Karađorđe’s Star with Swords and the White Eagle King’s Medal.

Jelena Lozanić Frotingam (Helen Losanitch Forthingham; Belgrade, 1885 – 1972) wife of John Forthingham – donator, a representative of the Red Cross of the Kingdom of Serbia during the First World War in America, Secretary of the National Serbian Women’s Alliance and a great fighter for woman’s rights. She received the White Eagle Medal and Sveti Sava Medal of the higher degree.

Mabel Dunlop Grujić (1872 – 1956, Washington) – wife of the Serbian diplomat Slavko Grujić, a great Serbian benefactor and a volunteer nurse at the Red Cross in Serbia during the First World War, as well as one of the most active people that organized help for Serbia. When the First World War broke out she called the hieromonk Nikolaj Velimirović who held 120 powerful speeches in the same number of American cities and gathered thousands of dollars in aid as well as thousands of volunteers. She founded the Council of Ladies with the goal of gathering the funding needed for a girls school while in 1915 in New York she founded the Serbian Agricultural Relief Committee together with Mihajlo Pupin. During the diplomatic work of Slavko Grujić in London, she initiated the Serbian Support Fond (1917) and the acquired money was used to buy hygienic materials for the hospitals in Serbia. In 1914, she founded the Hospital of Saint John and gathered a small group of volunteering nurses, among whom was Flora Sandes. By her request, the Serbian government replied that it was not possible to entrust the American mission with complete freedom to act – which was also asked by General Gorgas as well – in the whole country, but that they will be guaranteed complete autonomy in 15 areas with the exception of Niš and Skoplje where other missions were already active. With combined efforts of Mabel and Slavko Grujić they succeeded in receiving 100.000 dollars from the Carnegie Foundation in 1920 in order to build the University Library ”Svetozar Marković”.

Malvina Cornell Hoffman (15th of June 1885 – 10th of July 1966) was an American sculptor, painter, humanitarian – author of the poster ”Serbian needs your help” which shows a Serbian soldier in his last moments on his road to the Blue Grave (the author of the picture was a war reporter Miloje Igrutinović). Igrutinović’s photo made its way to an exhibition in New York which was dedicated to the suffering of the Serbian people during the First World War and the impression of one of the soldiers left a mark on the artist Malvina Hoffman. She then drew a picture of the photo which then ended up as the front cover of a publication which was used in 1918 in the USA at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York during the promotion of the anniversary of Kosovo Day (and gathering charity for Serbia), after which she used it as a poster ”Serbia needs your help” which then was used as a postcard.

Malvina Hoffman’s interest in Serbia was due to two men, Colonel Milan Pribićević and popular American illustrator of the day Charles Dana Gibson. Colonel Milan Pribićević came from Corfu to America as a representative of the Serbian government in order to try and collect volunteers and aid for Serbia. In New York at the international branch office of the Red Cross, he met Malvina Hoffman and they became close friends and there were even stories that the artist and the Colonel were in love. Dana Gibson was, backed by the Committee for Public Information, gathering groups of known artists that worked at posters for free that dealt with the topic of war. Among the chosen illustrators was Malvina Hoffman.

During the First World War, Hoffman actively took part in the work of the Red Cross. After the war in 1919 she was one of the activists from the USA who, as a member of the International Red Cross, went around helping the war-torn Balkan countries.

Dr. Richard Strong (1872 – 1948) was a doctor and humanist, top epidemiologist of his time – Director of the School of Tropical Medicine at the University of Harvard, famous for his achievements for his fight against a plague in China in 1911. After the typhus epidemic killed many Serbian and foreign doctors as well as the medical staff in 1915, the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross sent to Serbia ten world-renown bacteriologists lead by Richard Strong, the Director of the Institute for Tropical Diseases at the University of Harvard, with the goal to help Serbia in its fight against the growing epidemics. He came to Serbia in 1915 during the height of the typhus epidemic with a crew of 40 doctors and other medical staff. His team included professional bacteriologists and medical staff that had everything that was necessary at their disposal (because of the fear that it could spread to America).

The Columbia Relief Expedition. In spring of 1915, the expedition was launched by Mihajlo Pupin. The Columbia Relief Expedition was supposed to have been under the supervision of the American Red Cross and had the goal of helping to provide all parts of Serbia with food, medical equipment and medicine. Likewise, the expedition was meant to bring to Serbia a large amount of agricultural tools, seeds etc. that was provided by the Serbian Agricultural Relief Committee, as well as to motivate the refugees from over-crowded cities to return to their abandoned homes and to help with the planting of new crops. A large amount of the needed funds for this endeavor was provided by the American Committee of Mercy.

Members of the expedition, twenty-four students mostly from the Columbia University and twenty-six Serbs from America who went as translators and who were meant to stay in Serbia even after the end of the expedition, arrived in Niš on the 24th of July 1915. In order to help with in the humanitarian mission, 24 cars made especially for these conditions were sent with them. A part of the expedition was sent to the southern parts of Serbia and Macedonia with the goal of checking the proscribed sanitary rules in the fight against typhus and to record the number of infected people. They used the cars to visit remote villages, often risking their lives on the steep and hardly passable mountain roads. The other part of the expedition was sent to the northern parts of Serbia, to the Smederevo and Požarevac region, where they had the task of transporting corn to warehouses or to the nearest railway station as well as to deliver it to the people. By the end of September and the first half of October 1915, after the end of the expedition, ten members of the expedition returned home while the rest of the members remained and continued with their work in Serbia and Bosnia under the supervision of the Red Cross. Among those who remained was Douglas Dold, the author of the ”Adventure in the Balkans 1915” manuscript as well as Paul Fortier Jones, author of the ”With Serbia into Exile” book.

Paul Fortier Jones (1892 – 1940) was an American journalist that, in July 1915, came to Serbia as part of the Columbia Relief Expedition. After the end of the expedition’s mission he remained in the Balkans and together with the Serbian army he traveled across Albania. In 1916 in New York, he published his book ”With Serbia Into Exile: An American’s Adventures with the Army That Cannot Die” which spoke about his time in Serbia during the war, and he dedicated it to ”Serbian old men”. This is how Jones writes about them: ”They knew full well where they were going, they didn’t turn to fantasies. I had a few thousand cigars and was passing them around to these elderly men and from their words I realized how much they hoped to return. When I gave one gray-haired old man a hundred cigars, he told me, with the help of a translator: ”This will be enough for a lifetime!” But neither he nor the rest felt concerned nor happy. Someone had to go and the choice fell on them and that’s the end of the story. They were erased, almost to the last man… they were decorated with bravery. ”

Paul Fortier Jones was ordained with the Saint Sava Medal.

Ruth Stanely Farnam (11th of September 1873 – 7th of December 1956) – American nurse and writer whose medical mission in 1916 grew into a military one when she joined the Serbian Army as a volunteer. A sergeant of the cavalry division, she was the only American woman that served in the Serbian Army. In 1918, she published her autobiography titled ”A Nation at Bay: What an American Woman Saw and Did in Suffering Serbia”. She was awarded with the Saint Sava Medal and the Cross of Mercy.

John Reed (1887 – 1920) was an American journalist, poet and a socialist activist, a correspondent from Serbia and a witness to the suffering of the Serbian people by the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War. As a war correspondent at the beginning of the 20th century, he was on all fronts describing, like a true reporter, the horrors of war and the suffering. He visited Mexico, Russia, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, France, Italy and Poland in order to tell the American public about the horrible truth. When he arrives in Serbia, his journey had taken 28 days, from the 20th of April to the 18th of May 1915. While traveling via itinerary Niš, Kragujevac, Belgrade, Rakovica, Ada Ciganlija, Obrenovac, Šabac, Prnjavor, Loznica, Gučevo, Krupanj, Zavlaka, Valjevo, Niš, he could do nothing more than confirm the horrible atrocities that, on every turn, the army of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy committed. His testimony was published in the Book ”Serbia – the Land of Death”.

Harry Plotz (17th of April 1890 – 7th of February 1947) was an American colonel at the Army Medical Corps and a renowned bacteriologist. His research has led to the discovery of bacteria that was responsible for the typhus and the development of a vaccine in 1914. He was a pathologist at Mount Sinai, a member of the Red Cross Commission in Serbia and the advisor to the Bulgarian government concerning the typhus fever. He came to Serbia in July 1915 as part of the mission by the American Red Cross together with the members of the Columbia Relief Expedition. He spent several months in Europe researching the spread of the typhus fever in war-torn regions such as: Poland, southern parts of Russia and Eastern Europe.

Horard Operle – humanitarian, Chief of the Support Fund of the USA Red Cross – He sent food and clothes to the villagers of the Nova Varoš area, by foot or carriage, who were suffering at the hands of the typhus in their homeland which was torn apart by the horrors of the First World War. After being sick of a while, Operle passed away in the house of the respectable host Milan Borisavljević on the 16th of June 1919 in Nova Varoš. The only known trace of his three month work in this part of Serbia could be found on the pages of the Belgrade ”Pravda” from June 1939, in an article written by the local priest Jevstatije Karamatijević

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