How did an eleven-year old boy from the ancient city of Split, on the Adriatic coast, who with his family left almost everything when Nazis and Fascists invaded their homeland at the beginning of World War II, grow up to be a United States soldier and a highly successful American businessman? The answer to that question is the story that Michael Novakovic tells in this poignant and charming memoir, A Pilgrim for Freedom. It is one part the account of a refugee family who barely survived explosions and hunger while seeking safety during World War II, and includes vivid descriptions of the hardships Mike, his siblings, and parents endured. It is another part the story of an immigrant family who came to the United States (by way of Argentina) after the war and with great ingenuity and industry worked their way up to levels of success that had been unimaginable during the darkest days of war. Finally, it is also the chronicle of a loyal and valiant soldier who sought to pay back his debts to the United States for defeating fascism and communism through distinguished service in the U.S. Air Force's intelligence operations. In sum, it is a riches-to-rags-to-riches story that testifies both to the resilience of one man and to the ideals of the nation that inspired him.
Having heard while in Slavery that "God made of one blood all nations of men," and also that the American Declaration of Independence says, that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" we could not understand by what right we were held as "chattels." Therefore, we felt perfectly justified in undertaking the dangerous and exciting task of "running a thousand miles" in order to obtain those rights which are so vividly set forth in the Declaration. I beg those who would know the particulars of our journey, to peruse these pages. This book is not intended as a full history of the life of my wife, nor of myself; but merely as an account of our escape; together with other matter which I hope may be the means of creating in some minds a deeper abhorrence of the sinful and abominable practice of enslaving and brutifying our fellow-creatures.
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