Consecration of a Cossack Monument at the Serbian Cemetery

From the Editors: On May 7, a monument erected in the famed Serbian Cemetery of San Francisco, dedicated to the Cossacks who suffered during the years of conflict was consecrated. We offer the speeches read by His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill and Ataman of the All-Cossack Union of San Francisco, Victor Pavlovich Metlenko:

Address of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill:

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Honored Reverend Fathers, Brothers and Sisters! Christ is Risen!

All of us gathered here, many from remote locations, and also a great multitude of those near and dear to us who are scattered throughout the world, owe the debt of our very existence to those remarkable people whose suffering, pain under torture, military feats, successes and honor are memorialized here by this monument, for whose consecration we are here today.

We all must take into account the well-known truth, as did our predecessors and heroes: in the Kingdom of Heaven there is no division between the living and the dead, for in Christ, all are alive. So we all know that today with us on this site are their bright souls: the souls of our departed, unforgotten Cossacks, tortured to death by the godless, who spilled their own blood for their Faith, for the Tsar, for Russia.

We do not see them, but God sees all—not only each Cossack in his dark day of death, but all their worthy relatives, their ancestors, their descendants, including us sinners.

What is unknown to the human mind is known in the minutest detail to God: the names of all of them, their fates, their experiences, and their number.

While consecrating this monument, let us give thanks to the Lord God who inspired the descendants of these people, in the form of the All-Cossack Union, for their labor of erecting this memorial. Let us pause upon the meaning of this symbol and the meaning of the feat of our unforgettable Cossacks.

The Cossacks were the centerpiece of the Tsarist military, the pride of the Emperor, the first and last hope of all the greatest Russian generals: Suvorov, Kutuzov, Skobelev, of their fellow soldiers and their successors. The Cossacks, to their last drop of blood, fought the Red slave-masters and evil-doers, the usurpers and traitors, they fought all the enemies who tried to deprive Russia of freedom.

The essence of the Cossack was of life is their disciplined, selfless service to society and future generations, through unwavering devotion to the Orthodox Faith, the zealous working of the land that God gave the Russian people, and the constant readiness to join in combat. Cossacks were renowned for the fact that with blinding swiftness, they would hand over all household responsibilities to their wives and boldly throw themselves into furious battle for their homeland. If a regular soldier needed time to prepare, to equip himself, to do drills, a Cossack did not even need a day. A Cossack always had with him everything he needed, he was well-prepared in military arts and needed to special training; he needed no more than the most meager provisions; a Cossack was famed for his endurance and decisiveness, he infected others with his warrior spirit, he constantly displayed courage and bravery, he was unquestioningly obedient and engaged in battle until the death.

The Cossacks were strong family men, they kept their farmsteads, their homes and stanitsy (Cossack villages] orderly, moral and restrained, severe obedience to their elders to the point of asceticism. In those difficult periods when the Cossacks headed for an expedition or to the front, their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters—Cossacks all—without a moment's hesitation, heaped upon themselves all the duties of their departed men, ensuring through their remarkable physical efforts the future peaceful existence of their stanitsy. Such was life, over the course of many generations, in full devotion to God, the Tsar and the Fatherland, to the good order and blossoming of their native land, for a significant portion of the finest, most resourceful, most independent, self-sufficient and hard-working of all Russian communities—the Cossack stanitsy.

When after the Time of Troubles, the Russian state grew strong, and the Cossacks became the main pillar of the lawful government. The enemies of Orthodoxy and of Russia trembled from the very thought of approaching Cossack forces, to the point that even after 80 years of atheist rule and brutal persecutions of Orthodox Christians, they could not eliminate Orthodoxy, nor the Cossacks, nor the Russian spirit and Russian national honor.

But if today Russia still exists, if Russia will continue to live on with God's help and flourish in the future, it must be said that our Cossacks are probably the main reason. The Cossacks gave the entire Russian people that very leavening of piety in the sense of humble steadfastness in the faith, in the combination of real patriotism and actual feats (not only in word), in service and in deeds. The Cossacks championed the truth, which strengthened our understanding of service through faith and truth—that is, utter resistance to betrayal and treason in any form. Cossacks fear no suffering. The tragic pages of our history are bloodied by the multitude of innocent Cossack children who were bestially killed by the Red commissars in the attempt to utterly eliminate those families and clans which remained devoted to God, the Church and the Emperor, whom they knew would not veer from resisting the ideology of godlessness, evil and totalitarianism.

But the Lord God did not allow the final destruction of His faithful servants. Through the prayers of our great saints, our New Martyrs and Confessors, the Lord God hid a portion of His devoted Cossacks from the persecutors, so that at the needed time—now, before our very eyes—these stanitsy would rise again, along with their blessed traditions.

We know, we will never forget that there were Cossacks who went underground during the Soviet era, who continued in secret their struggle against the enemies of Russia, and they hold the final victory over Communism. We remember also those innocent victims who were lost through the corrupt, immoral intrigues of those who sacrificed them to a horrible death, when our relatives and dear Cossacks, old men, women, children, the wounded, were driven into box cars for forced repatriation, sent off to certain death... The memory of the martyrs of Lienz, whose 60th anniversary we mark this year, and the other shameful retaliations against defenseless Russian Orthodox people, will never die in our hearts. But our memories will not bring them succor: they were consoled among the host of saints by God Himself, on the very days and hours of their tragic deaths!

Here, in this small but populated cemetery, where so many of our dear friends and relatives found their final resting place, gazing over these tombstones, which serve as clear reminders of the many centuries of the struggles through selfless service of Russian Orthodox Cossackdom, and also of the martyric sufferings endured by the generations of the 20th century, let each of us remember our relatives, our ancestors, our friends, acquaintances, the heroes, the saviors and defenders, thanks to whom the Lord God bestowed upon us the task of continuing their service to Him, to Orthodoxy, to Russia and even to the general work of educating mankind and improving civilization as such.

We all knew, many of us knew many of them, knew them well, and now, when many have passed into eternity to the Lord, we clearly declare through this Monument and its solemn consecration that we love them and honor them to this day, we pray for them and ask them to pray for us, so that the Lord God would truly revive and strengthen in our Homeland and everywhere the holy task of the selfless service begun by our ancestors, whose image appears in this Monument. Amen!

Christ is Risen!

Speech of the All-Cossack Union in San Francisco, Victor Pavlovich Metlenko:

Your Eminence, spiritual Fathers, brother and sister Cossacks, cadets, scouts, monarchists and dear Russians and Orthodox Christians who have gathered here together on this holy site:

Christ is Risen!

The long-awaited day has finally arrived, a joyous, bright day; the day of the consecration of the monument created in honor of all those who died from the brutal Red terror which brought a sea of tears and irreversible sorrow to Cossack families. The Red commissars spared no one: innocent blood spilled by Cossack children and their mothers, men and women, brothers and sisters will forever remain an indelible stain on their bestial cruelty and black obscurantism.

Lienz alone, where tens of thousands of Cossacks perished, the eternal pride and glory of the Russian Army, evokes unending pain and suffering in one's heart from the trampled and humiliated Honor of Our Glorious Fatherland! How many abasements and sorrows has Russia suffered, bound hand and foot by the Red executioner and forced to her knees?!

Even now Russia cannot completely rise up from the fatal blows and losses she has suffered... Our hearts are filled with pious anxiety and brilliant joy at the sight of this memorial, which hails the eternal podvig [spiritual feat] of the Russian Orthodox Cossackdom in those terrible times.

This long-awaited hour has finally arrived, when our memorial is, with God's help, finished and consecrated! Eternal Glory and Memory to the Cossack Heroes, the Defenders of Our Beloved Fatherland!

This solemn and memorable day of Bright Paschal Week is dear to all of us—we see in it Divine Providence and God's finger in this good work! The day and hour of this important event is not an accident. The Russian land was soaked with the blood of Orthodox Christian martyrs, whose moans and cries resound in our hearts even today. Cossacks, faithful defenders of our dear Fatherland, laid their bold heads on the fields of battle, not one of them fled their ground! The flowers of the field and the grasses of the steppes sang their pannikhidas in those days of horror...

May the descendants of the Orthodox Russian Land know and remember the history of Great Russia! May our children and their grandchildren learn and know the true history of the Crowned, the Invincible Russia!

I built a memorial not made with human hands;
The people's path to it shall not be overgrown.
Its unbowed head is raised
Higher than Alexander Pillar.

--was the great Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin's legacy to the descendants of Russia. This monument, dedicated to the Russian Cossacks, is our meager donation to the great work of the Renascence of Russia! May the path to it not become overgrown. This Holy Site is our gift to the Great Past of Russia, a living testimony to this glorious memory of the past, the present and future for all the generations of the Russian Orthodox People to come!

Russia has shaken off its sleep, it is awakening and being reborn! Russian Cossackdom is being reborn as well!

Let us bow our heads in prayer, let us constantly pray for the genuine spiritual and patriotic blossoming of Russia's rebirth! Our strength is in unity, in our All-Russian Orthodox conciliarity! Hail our great, unconquerable and Holy Russia! Hail All-Russian Cossackdom!