In case you don't like poetry, skip the bold/italic section of the text.
This dawn, much like every dawn this day of year for last six centuries,
weary souls of my ancestors - the aristocrat and the common,
the noble and lowborn - shall answer the Prince's summon.
Reborn with the Sun, they shall heed the call still echoing in their ears.
They shall depart heavenly posts, descending anew to the abyss.
They shall cry out to the Creator, and to Vitus, and by their grace
their sore, jaded, eternal wounds shall heal, the Spirit shall be their brace.
They shall march, their destinies entwined... The holly heads, the unbent knees.
Their tired hands shall grasp the rusty axe, the shattered sword, the broken spear,
the ancient bow, the bent arrow, the old peasant fork, the cloven shield...
They shall ride to our aid once more, down on the dreadful Kosovo field -
our cradle, our ossuary, our smile, our weep, our joy and our fear.
They shall protect, with divine zeal, the codes, ideals, the ways of the old,
all of which their children gradually forgot, to their terrible grief.
But they will march, their drums and horns being their earnest faith and belief,
greater than belief of ours, their grandchildren grandchildren's, manyfold.
With the sanguine setting of the Sun, of terrible wounds they shall die,
struck by their sworn enemies, but also, alas, by some of their kin.
Their sacrifice shall stir our cooled blood, and make it boil under our skin,
and for a moment at least, a fragile sparkle will show in our eye.
Waiting for this magnificent, yet grave, ominous morning to come,
I, a Serb, my chivalrous, valiant ancestors' unworthy child,
in your distant eyes ever brutal, barbarous, treacherous and wild,
humbly ask you to spare a single thought in memory of their martyrdom.
*ossuary - a container or receptacle, such as an urn or a vault, for holding the bones of the dead
On this day, the 28th of June (15th of June back in the day, since the Gregorian calendar was introduced some two centuries later, and Julian calendar was still in use in both Catholic and Orthodox states and Churches) in year 1389, largely outnumbered army of Serbian states, led by Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, supported by a small force led by Duke Vlatko Vuković Kosača, sent by Bosnian King Tvrtko I, and a small force of Croatian Hospitallers, fought a battle on the Kosovo plain, against the invading army of Ottoman Turks, led by Sultan Murad I and his sons. A battle that will prove to be one of the most important pillars of Serbian people's survival, and of their national identity.
In the first phase of the battle, the Serbian army pushed back the enemy, and one of Serbian knights, Miloš Obilić, managed to slay the Ottoman Sultan. In the next phase, Murad's son, Bayezid, managed to consolidate the Turkish forces and to launch a counter-attack, during which Prince Lazar was captured. He was beheaded by Bayezid's order, and the Turkish army retreated from the battlefield and left Serbia. The casualties were great on both sides, so the clear outcome of the battle is not determined with unquestionable confidence. However, later on, the Turks launched another campaign on Serbia, and eventually, small Serbian states, whose lords were struggling for power after the death of the Serbian Emperor Dušan, were conquered in XV century.
Serbia won back its independence in XIX century, and one of the liberation's main initiating factors was the collective memory of what is now known as the Kosovo myth. The importance of this battle can be illustrated with the fact that Serbian epic (folk) poetry is divided into Pre-Kosovo Cycle, Kosovo Cycle, and Post-Kosovo Cycle.
Prince Lazar and his warriors (including Obilić) were canonized - declared to be saints - martyrs, by the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to folk and religious traditions, an angel appeared before the Prince before the battle, and asked whether he wanted victory in the battle, and a kingdom equal to Dušan's empire in greatness (Dušan was a Serbian emperor, and in his time, Serbian medieval state was at its peak, being a supreme force in the Balkans), or to lose the battle, to give up on the worldly glory and fame, to die in battle, and be repaid in heavens instead. This was also a test of his faith. He elected to die, saying "A kingdom in this world lasts not for long, but the Kingdom of Heaven lasts forever". Tradition also tells that Prince Lazar cast a curse whilst summoning the army, which is recorded in epic poetry. The translation of the curse goes as follows:
"Whoever is a Serb and of Serb birth,
and of Serb blood and heritage,
and comes not to the Battle of Kosovo,
may he never have the progeny his heart desires,
neither son nor daughter!
May nothing grow that his hand sows,
neither red wine nor white wheat!
And let him be cursed from all ages to all ages!"
On the 28th of June (15th of June by the Julian calendar), the Church celebrates St. Vitus (Vit in Serbian). It is also interesting to note that various Slavic pagan deities were substituted by the Christian saints upon Christianization of the Slavs. On that matter, St. Vitus is related with Svetovid (known also as Svantevit in Western Slavic languages). Meaning of this pagan god's name is Saint Sight. The St. Vitus's day is called Vidovdan in Serbia.
The 28th (15th) of June - Vidovdan is a really important day to us Serbs. This poster that was intended to mark the celebration of Vidovdan in UK during the WWI, while the West still respected us and saw us for what we really were, illustrates that:
Unfortunately, due to the present state of the southern Serbian province that is under protectorate of international peace keeping forces, there is a growing number of Serbs who are starting to disregard the Vidovdan, the Battle of Kosovo, and the Kosovo in general, since we are under great pressure from abroad, which grieves me most.
If you read all of this, the poem (my humble tribute) and the text that follows (of course, written by me ), I thank you from the bottom of my heart, although I doubt many of you will do so. I hope this will not be regarded as spam. Cheers, best regards from Serbia.