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Published 2 months ago

By Antonije Kovačević

EXCLUSIVE, CHARLES CATHER(IĆ), GREATEST SERBIAN AMONG AMERICANS: I can’t wait to convert to Orthodoxy, to have a godfather and my own slava! (PHOTO)

Charles Cather is no ordinary American. He is an American who adores Serbia and Serbs, which he shows wherever he goes; on the street, on the beach, in a bar, on social networks, in the USA, in Serbia, in every country in the world where he finds himself. And Charles really likes to travel…

He came to Serbia for the first time 13 years ago, after a heated discussion with a group of our people on the internet group “I hate the USA”. On leaving, his mother said, “You’re crazy, they’ll kill you!”, but he didn’t care. He liked the honesty with which those “America haters” talked to him. He thought: “There is something over there”. And he never came back. Serbia became his homeland, and three years ago he received honorary citizenship and a passport. He took it deadly seriously, and he tries his best to promote Serbia wherever he goes, to be its ambassador in the true sense of the word…

We interviewed Charles during his visit to his family in Illinois. And so the two of us talked…Myself, who emigrated from Serbia to the USA, and he, who went in the opposite direction. Hmm, lots of topics to talk about at the start…

After so many years that you spent in Serbia, many say that you have become a bigger Serb than many of Us. What do you think about it…Actually, how do you feel? 

-I totally agree with that assessment. Serbia has dominated my life from the very first moment I stepped off that plane on May 28th, 2010. I eat, drink, listen to Serbian music, and dream of Serbia on a daily basis. The vast majority of my close friends say they’d never wear a Serbian flag shirt, but I own many and wear them with pride. I think a lot of my infatuation and pride come from the fact that I was blessed with Honorary Citizenship back in June 2020. It makes you love and appreciate a country when it has so much faith and respect in you.

When you analyze your behavior, emotions, thoughts… In which things have you become a true Serb, and in which you are still Charles, the American?

-Good question. Living in Serbia has helped me see my country from the outside so I question the motives of American policies as most of the Serbs do. I’m also kissing and hugging my friends and folks I just meet; something I would never do in the US. The American in me still hates smoking in cafes and restaurants and says “zdravo” and “kako si” to random folks on the street (who usually stare at you like you are crazy or want something). 

SERBIA IN THE HEART, SERBIA ON SWIMMING PANTS: Charles took Serbia’s citizenship seriously

Some people say…To become a real Serb, you have to speak the Serbian language…how are you doing with your studies and when do you plan to start speaking Serbian? What is the hardest thing for you to learn in Serbian?

-My Serbian language is still a disaster after all of these years. It’s my biggest shame and not taking it more seriously back in the 2010s is my biggest regret. I understand a lot of Serbian, and can read Cyrillic (find it easier actually), but dislike using the language as it evokes laughs and smiles from most folks as I always mess up something. It’s very rude and inappropriate of me to not learn it as a citizen of Serbia, but I find it so difficult to master. The only thing I can say is that the main reason I haven’t learned it well is that the Serb people are smart and can all speak/understand English. 

Your experience with Serbs started with the group “I hate the USA”…and it turned into something totally opposite. What a journey, right?

Yeah! It still seems like the plot of some fictional film, but it’s all true. I think about my first encounter with Dragan and Alexandar and wonder where I would be if I had blocked them instead of engaging them in their hatred. Who knows! It’s weird as a tiny encounter with someone who “hated” me, turned into a moment that totally altered my life for the better. This is a good lesson for each and everyone reading this….. Always engage your “enemy” or those who disagree with your views, It can really open your eyes and change the world. 

Do Serbs really hate Americans?

-Well, you can’t really lump all 7+ million Serbs in Serbia together as one, but after 13 years of living in Serbia, I found only a handful of folks who claimed to hate everything about America. I love to sit and discuss the topic with folks. The vast majority always make it known that they love the people and culture, but detest our leaders. The funny thing is that most Americans feel the exact same way about our political leaders. 🙂 

When a Serb tells you that the US bombed Serbia in 1999 and that’s why he hates it, what do you say to him?

-That has come up numerous times. My response is usually something like ” Bill Clinton never called me back in 1999 and asked my permission.” or “I was in university and working full-time in 1999 so I had nothing to do with it at all.”. They also hate it when I say “0k, should I judge you for every act your present-day politicians are doing ?” 🙂 There is a huge difference between our leaders and the everyday American who knows very little about Serbia and is trying to work 2 jobs to pay off his debts. 

I noticed that in many of your statements regarding global and often American politics, you think more like a Serb and defend Serbian interests…

Totally! I’m very outspoken in my opposition to the current American administration and our interventions in other countries, expanded spying on our own people, promotion of trans rights, and other immoral issues. Living in Serbia has helped me to see things from the Serbian side (something we never see/seen in the USA). I get where you are coming from and the hostilities you have faced so I’m very pro-Serbian and make it known loud and clear.

Is it just because you love Serbs a lot or now you know something you didn’t know before?

-No, It’s because I see Serbia from the Serbian perspective and have heard first-hand how past policies and things have affected our people in Serbia. There are very few folks (non-native Serbs) who stand up to all the anti-Serb propaganda. We all gotta do our part to help expose the hypocrisy.

 I would say that you are more in favor of the Republicans and Trump, like the majority of Serbs in Serbia and the USA…Again, is it because of your Serbian perspective or…?

-Yes, I am. It’s so strange to look back just 2 years ago when I was the biggest Democrat you could imagine. I was a Democrat-lover ever since 1988 when I dressed up as Michael Dukakis for Halloween. I voted for Clinton (so disgusted to admit that)  in 1996 (the first election I could vote in), supported Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama after that. In 2020, I voted Green Party as I would never ever support Hillary Clinton and in 2021, I totally switched sides after living on Martha’s Vineyard for the summer and seeing all the Black Lives Matter flags, gay flags in churches and in school classrooms and hearing that some teachers were taking down the American flag because it seemed nationalistic. What a joke!  I like to say that I had an epiphany. I’m now listening to conservative podcasts and learning about all the evil deeds that the Democrats committed over the years. Ron DeSantis is who I hope to vote for in 2024, but I’ll be a Trumpie if he wins the nomination! Anyone but Joe or the leftists.


Your family and friends told you 13 years ago that you were crazy about going to Serbia… What do they tell you today? I saw your post on Facebook…your mother worrying about you walking around in Chicago at 12 AM 🙂  

-My family is all about it now! It wasn’t that they specifically thought Serbia was a horrible place, but mom had Googled it and read about our illegal bombardment in 1999. She had said, ” We had a war with them, they’ll probably kill you!” Fast forward to today, my mother is telling me to be careful when I’m in US cities and saying things like “Take a taxi, don’t walk around US cities, you are no longer in Serbia! Remember that!” They are thrilled to hear that I love it and proud that I’m the first family member to receive citizenship in Serbia. They are cooking Serbian foods and Dad absolutely loved the book “Forgotten 500” where Draža saved over 500 American airmen in WWII. They would love to visit, but they are older and must fly first class on airplanes. That makes the tickets way too expensive. 

You were born in Illinois, where the largest Serbian community outside of Serbia lives… Did you have the opportunity to meet some Serbs in Chicago and Illinois when you were a boy, a young man before you first came to Serbia? And how was that…

-Not as a boy, I was raised in a small ranch community of 1600 people. One funny thing that I realized after moving to Serbia was that I had a Serb working for me when I was the sales manager at Gillespie Pontiac at 66th and Western. It didn’t click until I learned the common names in Serbia. I have met a ton of Serbs in Chicago since that moment. The other day, I was googling Serb restaurants and churches in Chicago. There was a church a few blocks from my hotel so I walked down there. A guy named Miroslav pulled up in his Audi and said ” I know you from Youtube. My family has been watching you for years!” He toured me around the Serb school, introduced me to some of the teachers and we had a great conversation about life as a Serb in Chicago. A little later that day, I went to a restaurant called Kafana Zora in Chicago. A Serb cop stopped by and said ” I hated to bother you, but just wanted to come and say “hi”, bring you a bottle of dunja, and show you my “Jebote” license plates. 🙂 It’s an honor to know that so many Serbs know me. 

What is the most unusual place where you met a Serbian man or woman, where did you least expect to meet him?

-Hmmm… One really cool moment was bumping into Charles Jenkins (Crvena Zvezda) here on Nantucket Island. One of my Serb boys came over and said: “I know that black guy is CHarles Jenkins.” I ran over and it was! He was really shocked to know we recognized him and chatted with us about his time in Serbia. I also ran into a Serb in Somaliland, a small town in central Kentucky and a stewardess on a plane in Qatar that was heading to Thailand walked by me and said “Charles Cather?! I know you!” It made all the folks around me glance at me to see if I was famous. 🙂 I also me the owner of a Serb restuant in Yerevan, Armenia. I met our people everywhere! 

IN SERBIAN CHICAGO: With Miroslav Topalski on the Serbian road near the Holy Resurrection Church

I saw that you recently met one in Poland…I noticed that in the countries you travel to, you don’t look for Americans at all, but Serbs… 

-Exactly! I really get a kick out of checking out all things Serbian related when I travel to countries around the world. It’s interested to meet the Serb restaurant owners and find out their stories, taste their food and compare it to the homeland. I also like visiting our embassies abroad. The Serb ambassador to Poland invited me to the embassy, but I flew in late and couldn’t meet him. I’m also going to have a little meeting with Ambassador Djuric at the Serb Embassy in DC. I was supposed to do that in April, but they messaged me saying he had to cancel as he’ll be in Belgrade. 

How come you resisted the charm of Serbian women and did not get married?

-The most common question I get. It seems that people in Serbia and the Balkans in general, can’t comprehend someone not wanting to marry. It has always terrified me to think about getting hitched and being tied to one spot with one woman. I’m 46, but live my life as an 18 year old. This life that I live (6 months in Serbia, 6 months in the US), isn’t for everyone. I can’t even have a dog, cat or fish, let along a child and wife at this time. The time will come when I get tired of this hustle and bussle and settle down with a beautiful 20 year old in a little Serb village to live out my end of days. 🙂

We like to say that our women are the most beautiful in the world… What do you think about Serbian women, about their beauty, but also about other qualities?

-The vast majority of Serbian women are stunningly beautiful. You never see them go out of the house in sweatpants or without makeup as my ex in the States would do. Hell, a Serb girl will dress up to go to the bakery in the morning. They take so much pride in their looks which I find very sexy, nothing is worse than a slobbly looking lady. They are also smart and enjoyable to converse with on any topic. I love how they still take care of their men (cook, clean, bring the man dinner , serve food to guests before eating, etc). Serbian women are #1.

Have you ever been the best man at a Serbian wedding or baptized a Serbian kid/baby?

-Not yet as I have yet to convert to Orthodoxy. It is something that will happen in the near future, just waiting for the right time and place. I really want to be a kum, have a kum and have my own slava! 

What are you currently doing and what are your plans…are they still related to Serbia?

-I’ve worked as a program manager at a work and travel company in Novi Sad for 10 years. We have two offices in Serbia, two in Croatia, 2 in Greece, 1 in Bosnia and send 600-1000 J1 university students to the US each summer. I also am the director of sales at a truck dispatching company headquartered in Belgrade Waterfront at night. In the summers, I spend my time working at businesses that hire my j1 students and live/work with 40ish Serbs and Croats until Oct when I return to Serbia. One thing that my family and I are currently working on is building this cabin in the woods that we will put on Airbnb. It should be done by early 2024 and you’ll love the monument “park” I’m putting in the same woods. Have you heard of the Serbian Cultural Gardens in Cleveland? I’m going to have something on a smaller scale with a monument area devoted to Draza Mihailovic and the Forgotten 500 along with a few plaques of famous Serbian Americans. There are a ton of Serb truck drivers that go through my tiny town of Greenup and I think it would be visited by Serbs and help Americans who stay in the cabin learn a bit about Serbia and Serbian heroes.  

I know it’s still early to think about it… But where would you like to live when you retire, Serbia, USA, or something else?

-My final days of my life will be spent on a small ethno selo in a Serbian village. I want to have a few pigs, cows, garden, orchard, make rakija and ajvar. I love the Serbian government’s iniciative that is giving free village land/homes to folks who want to upgrade and help tourism in the country side. It was an honor when Mr Vučić invited me to her office for a coffee where she discussed this program in detail. 

By Antonije Kovacevic Photo: Private archive of Charles Cuther


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