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Two US Slovenians honoured with Medal of Merit

Washington, 26 April - Slovenia has honoured American Slovenians Mark Ryavec and Stephen Antalics with the Medal of Merit for their efforts for the US to recognise independent Slovenia in the early 1990s. Slovenian Ambassador to the US Tone Kajzer handed them the decorations on behalf of President Borut Pahor at the Slovenian Embassy in Washington, DC, on Monday.

Washington, US
Stephen Antalics, Slovenian Ambassador to the US Tone Kajzer and Mark Ryavec at the ceremony at which Antalics and Ryavec were honoured with the Medal of Merit for their contribution to Slovenia's promotion and international recognition.
Photo: Robi PoredoŇ°/STA

Washington, US
American Slovenians Stephen Antalics and Mark Ryavec honoured with Slovenia's Medal of Merit for their contribution to Slovenia's promotion and international recognition.
Photo: Robi PoredoŇ°/STA

Washington, US
American Slovenians Stephen Antalics and Mark Ryavec honoured with Slovenia's Medal of Merit for their contribution to Slovenia's promotion and international recognition.
Photo: Robi PoredoŇ°/STA

Ryavec, who served as Slovenia's honorary consul in Los Angeles in 1996-2002, received the medal for his contribution to the country's recognition by the US.

He has also significantly contributed to Slovenian culture and art being promoted in the US and to the country's reputation generally increasing.

For instance, he organised a high-profile exhibition on Slovenian masterpieces at the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum in 2000.

Ryavec, whose grandfather left Slovenian lands near Trieste for the US in 1908, is also credited with the city of Los Angeles recognising Slovenia and Croatia already in July 1991, which amounts to the first official document about Slovenia's recognition in the US.

Antalics was honoured for his efforts to preserve Slovenian identity. At the age of 93, he has recently received Slovenian citizenship.

He is the founder of the association of the twin cities Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Murska Sobota in Slovenia's Prekmurje region.

Antalics was born in Bethlehem to Slovenian parents, who left a village near Murska Sobota before WWI for the the US steel city, a destination for many Prekmurje Slovenians.

Since Prekmurje was under Hungarian rule until the end of WWI, Hungarian priests in the US managed to persuade many that they belonged to a Windish people. Many Slovenians accepted this narrative until Antalics thoroughly researched the matter at Leigh University to prove they were Slovenians.

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