Do Not Touch The HOS Flag


The trend in current, recent events in Croatia to do with HOS (Croatian Defence Forces) flag and symbols that it carried and carries, particularly the salutation “For Home Ready” (Za Dom Spremni) call for a somewhat amplified set of observations, which point in the direction of brazen attempts to insult and degrade the very spirit and the very sacrifice Croatia and its defenders in war made to win independence for Croatia in 1990’s; to win independence from communist Yugoslavia. When one of the flags under which a country was liberated from a bloody and cruel aggression is being treated with utter disrespect one knows that the time has arrived for action. And as far as Croatia is concerned this action can be nothing short of lustration and decommunisation! It is, without a doubt, from the former communist echelons, from the echelons that did not want an independent Croatia, that the attack on the HOS flag and its slogan “For Home Ready” is being waged.

While there have been numerous attacks against this flag in recent times, waged by Croatian authorities, one of those attacks of most recent dates was in the town on Knin on 5 August 2017, at the official celebration of the liberating military Operation Storm 1995 when war veterans were arrested for calling out in jubilation with “For Home Ready”. President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, as commander in chief of defence forces, was the patron of this event. Another attack occurred on Saturday 12 August 2017 at the Boat Marathon event in the Neretva River Valley, of which event president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic is also a patron. news portal reports that the local police “intervened” by seizing the HOS flag from one of the boats with members of the Croatian Party of Rights and friends who had intended to follow the race.

Strong internal affairs forces seized the flag, and a member of our presidency, Ivica Vladava, was questioned by the police and breaching charges mounted against him. DISGRACEFUL!,” members of the Croatian Party of Rights commented.

Now, I am only too well aware that a president of a country cannot control everyone on the ground, that even the Premier cannot, but, surely, they are the ones who as leaders must set the standards and expectations clearly for what is and what should not occur in the country that affects the public and the battle for the country’s independence. True leaders set clear standards and expectations and this is crucial to controlling an overall, nationally responsible flow of matters that occur or don’t occur in the country. Even if laws may stipulate that symbols of totalitarian regimes are forbidden (For Home Ready is, wrongfully and increasingly being painted as such) it is absolutely unacceptable that any Croatian flags under which the very independence was won, with untold suffering, would not be excepted under the provisions of any such law.

Circling back to the observation at hand, “disrespect towards the HOS flag” as a motivation is a deliberate act, and its consequences must be attended to with equal and justifiable force of determined action in protecting the flag from the treacherous political elites in authorities who deliver treacherous laws.

So, which is worse: the expression of offensive thoughts, the motivation behind such thoughts, or violent responses to non-violent but intentional attempts to injure the country’s pride or spirit (HOS flag represents both pride and spirit of Croatia’s path to freedom)? I have absolutely no intention of giving lessons on this. But, if somebody wants to mistreat the flag to show disrespect, thereby making somebody else angry, and they succeed, then it’s up to “public opinion, and … the general spirit of the people and of the government” to decide on the proper response.

When veterans counter-protest against this behaviour of disrespect towards the flag, some people suggest that veterans should not protest saying soldiers die so that others might have the freedom to do with the flag as they please – seize it, burn it, make it unlawful …Many people find a bizarre acceptance in this tragic contradiction. They understand neither freedom nor flag.
Protecting the flag is not obvious to others in these times of moral relativism and the regretful thriving of communist mindset. Such people follow the worn-out liberal dogma that confuses freedom and license. They define freedom as doing anything one wants to do as long as it does not hurt others. This is to misunderstand natural liberty. This liberal way of thinking turns “freedom” into a means of justifying the practice of vice, gratifying passions or dividing the nation. This kind of “freedom” resents order and restraint of all types although their actions of disrespecting the HOS flag are supposedly carried out under a relevant law. Inside this definition, they invent the “freedom” to desecrate one of the very flags the nation’s freedom was won with.

Liberty, the highest of natural endowments, being the portion only of intellectual or rational natures, confers on man this dignity – that he is ‘in the hand of his counsel’ and has power over his actions. But the manner in which such dignity is exercised is of the greatest moment, inasmuch as on the use that is made of liberty the highest good and the greatest evil alike depend,” Pope Leo XIII on nature of human liberty.

Thus, the true nature of freedom is the faculty of choosing the means toward an end that is perceived as good. The choosing of an evil reflects a defect of judgment not a proof of freedom’s proper functioning. This distinction of freedom is particularly true of the soldier. The soldier does not fight for the “right” to do whatever. His fight is oriented toward the defence of order. His moral universe makes a clear distinction between right and wrong because his life depends upon it. He puts force at the service of the good and directs his action against the forces of evil. The soldier does not give his life to defend disorder. Rather his fight implies a rule of law that limits the activities of people so that order might exist in society and true freedom might flourish.

It is for this and, hence, Croatia’s freedom to embark upon true democracy that the HOS flag must be protected. The flag is not just a piece of cloth. In these times of extreme individualism, many want to hijack the flag and turn it into a symbol of a person’s right to pursue some politically defined happiness without any social commitments.

The HOS flag (as are all other flags fought under in Croatia’s Homeland War) is one of the visible symbols that invite individuals to think beyond their self-interest. It represents a moral commitment to the common good of the collective entity called the Republic of Croatia. The visible flag represents the invisible bonds that link Croatians together as a people. It expresses those common ties that unite Croatia’s past, present and future.

Indeed, this flag, like all others proudly carried in the battles for Croatia’s freedom, in essence belongs to no political party, social class or special interest lobby. It belongs to everyone and rises above the intrigues and politics of the day. The flag honours a collective vision of what Croatia was, is, and might be. It is the celebration of what is called united governance, that unity of order that should make Croatia. It is one of the symbols of the commitment made in 1991 referendum by 94% of Croatians to be a member of the free and independent Croatian nation. Ina Vukic


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