As I already have mentioned on my family page family means a
lot to me, because my family has always been there for me and
helped me through life. I also said that my parents have sacrificed
a lot to get my brother and me to the U.S. and now I will tell
you what that sacrifice was and how I came to be here building
and designing this page. My Name is Zeljko, I was born in Croatia
- which might be better known as a part of the former Yugoslavia.
I lived in Croatia from birth to about the age of seven and that's
where my families journey starts. A war that erupted in Yugoslavia
in the struggle for power between the republics in Yugoslavia
three years earlier and now it has finally peaked and promised
a lot of blood shed. My father who at the time was in the army
fixing army terrain vehicles because he was an excellent mechanic
was to be mobilized and taken to the front lines of the battle.
Having wind of this my father promised himself that he would never
kill another human being nor does he want to be killed himself.
We started to see the that the battles were escalating and the
the war was drawing near our home when a bomb exploded about a
100 meters behind our house. The blast shook the ground under
our feet. When we (My mom, dad, and Brother) thought it was safe
we walked out back and had quite a sight to see. The back of our
house had about 32 holes formed by the scattering shrapnel. On
that same day my father hired a man who he trusted to get us across
the border and take us to Germany. My dad was going to go first
and we were to follow him a week later. That week was the longest
week for me, we didn't hear anything from my dad for four days,
we didn't know if he was dead or alive. It was a scary time. On
the fifth day we got word from my cousin that my dad was alive
and that he was trying to call us but the phone lines have been
knocked out so he could not reach us. My dad was in Germany and
he was safe. A week later the same man got us over the border,
even though it was easier for women and children to get out of
the country we still had to drive without lights at night so that
we would not get spotted by enemy soldiers and get fired upon.
When we finally met up with my dad in Germany I found out how
hard he really had it. My dad had to ride in a truck full of wood,
he only had a little room in the back corner of that truck to
couch into. If my dad were to be spotted he would have surly been
killed by soldiers who had orders to kill any man leaving the
country because it would have been considered as treason. As I
listened to my fathers voice I could not help but to cry. In Germany
we stayed for three months with my dad's cousin until we got our
own house and we had a nice and peaceful four years in Germany.
After four years the war finally ended, but the hatred and discrimination
between the nations could not and would not be forgotten so easily.
My dad went to Croatia for two weeks to check out the situation
and weather it was safe for us to go back home. Upon my dad's
return to Germany I expected a smile and him to tell us it was
safe and we could go home and be with the rest of our family again,
instead I got a disappointing frown and I knew what that meant.
A few days past and my dad didn't say much, which to me meant
that he was up to something. Later that night my dad told us he
has applied for us to go the United States where we can have a
good future away from bad thins such as war. My brother and I
were excited but my mom was the direct opposite, her eyes filled
with tears and she started crying. I could understand my mom,
she didn't want to leave my grandma behind and go somewhere so
far away from her. My dad was still going strong at it and a year
passed before our flight date and number was announced to us,
my dad told my mom that if she doesn't want to come with us she
could go back home and that after we settle in in the United States
we she could join us later on. My mom would not have it that way
and she decided that we should go all together. We left on September
20 1999. We had eight suitcases when we left Germany and when
we arrived in New York we had none. Our luggage was lost we were
in a strange and new world where we could not speak the language.
Luckily there was a German office where the people working there
spoke German and we were able to tell them that all our luggage
was lost, and they simply told us that they will make a note ot
that and when they find our suitcase they will send them to us.
We spent the night there in New York as we awaited our flight
for Chicago and then to Lansing Michigan. In Lansing we were picked
up by a man from the agency that got us to the U.S. and he took
us to an apartment and said it was ours. The first few months
were hard. I had to enroll in a school when I barely spoke English.
At that school I was supposed to go to fifth grade because I finished
fourth grade in Germany but the principal said I could enroll
in sixth grade because of my height (6' 0" at that time).
I was scared but I agreed to it but then the sixth grade teacher
said that I was still too tall even for sixth grade and so I ended
up getting enrolled into seventh grade. My mom cried constantly
about being so far away from our family but we got over it and
now four years later we are still in Lansing and we go home to
visit our family in Croatia every two years. In the end everything
worked out fine and I guess faith and destiny was generous to
us and I thank them and my dad for it.