The Last Guardian
91-year-old Đorđe Mihailović, like his father and grandfather before him, is a keeper of the Serbian military cemetery in Thessaloniki. He’s been guarding the memorial since 1961. Mihailović has been welcoming and saying goodbye to the descendants of the Serbian warriors who died on the Macedonian Front in World War I. He shows where the remains of their ancestors are buried and he guards the graves of all eight thousand Serbian victims.
The first guardian of the cemetery was Đorđe’s grandpa, Thessaloniki volunteer, Savo Mihailović, Serbian from Grbalj, near Boka Kotorska. Savo gathered his dead friends and comrades, and he kept them until he died in 1928. After death he joined his friends, he was buried on Zeitenlik. He was inherited by Đorđe’s father, Đuro Mihailović, who guarded the cemetery and its relics in World War II from German pillaging. When Đuro died in 1961, he was buried next to his father on Zeitenlik, and the duty of a guard passed on to Đorđe, the last male descendant from the Mihailovic family.
Although he retired several years ago, the honorable old man does not even think of abandoning them. He visits them, cleans around and offers visitors “Serbian plum brandy” and “Grape brandy”, while his wife displays small rosaries and other jewelry on the small table that she says she makes. “Four years ago, I became seriously ill and my doctors sent me home because I was not well. I saw on the internet that they had declared me dead, they came here to leave wreaths, flowers, and candles, and then I came before them as Tzar Lazar – explains Grandpa Đorđe.
Đorđe also says that today Zeitinlik is visited by the great-grandchildren of the participants of the breakthrough of Thessalonika Front and that the last Thessalonika warrior (Solunac) Naum Đorđevic died in 2010 at the age of 102.
Đorđe Mihailović was awarded the Order of the Serbian flag second degree and Order of St. Sava of the first degree, Raša Perić dedicated the song to the Zejtinlika keeper, Đorđe Mihailović, “Marching all night.” Documentary “The last guardian” was filmed about grandpa Đorđe in 2013.
Hopefully our last guardian Đorđe Mihailović lives many more years. Živ nam bio 100 godina čika Đorđe.