Saturday, July 13, 2013

He, Who Falls Fighting For Freedom Never Dies

And more:

"If I win, the victory belongs to all the people.  If I lose, I lose only myself." 

Vasil Levski was a great man.  I'll let you read the Wiki page on the subject of his life and persona, because I tried to describe him here in a few simple sentences, but I could never succeed - his bravery, his passion, his sacrifice deserve an entire novel.  All I want to say is that I am proud to be of the same nationality as him, and to walk the same paths he used to, when he was organizing the Revolution.  Lovech was an important center of the Secret Liberation Committee, and Kakrina, a village not 15 km from here, is where he was injured and captured by Ottoman soldiers on December 27, 1872, mere 6 years before Bulgaria finally became free.  Levski was executed by hanging a few months later in Sofia.

Visiting Kakrina was a tremendous experience.  I think I cried, but I don't quite remember.  You get this choking feeling and your eyes get all watery, and you get transported to another, much different time, and you realize that nothing in your life would have been possible if Levski hasn't lived, breathed, worked, and ultimately died for the Motherland.  

The only surviving artefact from Levski's time is a majestic elm tree that used to stand in the yard of the Kakrina Inn not till 15 years ago, when it finally dried and fell down.  They have preserved it just behind the Memorial with the help of a metal scaffold.  The Inn itself has burned down at the turn of the century, but has been reconstructed according to the original plans, and the interior is pretty close to how it used to be, just a little bigger.  You can see a bed just like the one in which Levski spent his last night as a free man, a hooded cloak just like the one he came in wearing, and the little window through which he shot his revolver to trick the soldiers and buy time to run away.

The rear door is of the stable, and it overlooks a back yard surrounded by a wattle fence.  Levski ran, attempted to jump over the fence, but the seat of his pants got caught in.  The historians initially said that his shoe got tangled in the fence, but this was later cleared up.  They just wanted the story to sound more dignified.  The events in this December morning was nothing short of heroic, nevertheless.  Levski was shot and injured, and where his blood was spilled, people put a commemorative stone with the words you see in the title (by another Bulgarian hero, Hristo Botev).  

The first few photos are from before we took the trip to Kakrina.  I saw a very cool stork looking for frogs in the river, the same day my Dad made a birdhouse in my Grandfather's old carpenters workshop.