| Personal Story
THE PERSONAL LION - MISSION
I am Ray "Rajko"
Ranic - AKA "THE BALKAN LION." The adopted
son of Serbian parents. At age 4 1/2 I was forcibly
removed from my home and parents by the police and
Dept. of Social Services in what is known as Termination
of Parental Rights. That was in 1957. More than 40
years later in 1998 I reunited with the last of 15
siblings in a personal search beginning in 1995 and
ending in 1998. The Mission Statement of The Balkan
Lion is as follows:
1) To raise the consciousness level regarding the
severity of child abuse issues and the education needed
to deal with this problem.
2) Provide statistics and information that define
the severity and types of child abuse.
3) To use the guise and personification of "THE
BALKAN LION" to bring information regarding areas
of interest such as child welfare statistics, abuse
education, politics, humor, life stories, life mysteries,
music and commentary for thought, debate and discussion.
4) To encourage educational systems of the need to
develop core studies programs or a curriculum program
teaching issues of child abuse. A testing area for
child abuse curriculum development and implementation
would be ideal!
5) To establish an "ALL CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED"
"TBL" Foundation. "THE BALKAN LION/TBL
Foundation will use the motto/statement "ALL
CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED" as the heart and soul
of this foundation-it is also the primary statement
of the website of THE BALKAN LION.
6) Establish a forum regarding the subject of OPEN
RECORDS ACCESS. The objective is for adoptees, foster
children, siblings, birthparents of the UNITED STATES
the opportunity to freely obtain identifying, non
identifying and medical information at age 18 regarding
their family history.
7) To preserve and elevate interest in music and its
importance to students within our educational systems.
To raise the visibility of Tamburitza music and its
preservation through my lifetime of dedication to
music within the Balkan community and communication
through the personality of THE BALKAN LION
and this website.
PERSONAL LION - INTRODUCTION
As THE BALKAN LION FOUNDATION
takes shape-more information will be provided on its
progress and development. (Please contact me through
this website of your desire to participate and become
involved with the TBL Foundation.
CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED"
My mission is that this website communicates my story
and personality in such a way as to bring hope, healing,
ideas, new paths, evolutionary and maybe revolutionary
approaches to the issues of child abuse education.
Evolutionary thoughts on occasion require revolutionary
views so that our children may benefit, our future
generations enriched and taught that there is another
way that we need to reach our children. I also believe
that each of us has our own individual personality
and spirituality to deal with.
Teach a child and they can learn. Sex and abuse are
powerful tools-together-they are devastating in their
effect and impact on a child. Sex is like a drug-you
dont control it-It controls you-In the wrong hands
vicious sexual, physical, and emotional abuse wreak
havoc upon the mind that leave deep scars and last
a lifetime. Some heal (to an extent) while many victims
of abuse don't and can't heal.
In addition we need to teach accountability for the
souls we bring into this world. Much more is at stake
than statistics and pregnancy numbers " FAMILIES".
Single parent family children in the United States
are raging out of control. 20,000,000 in the USA under
the age of 18 and 5,000,000 more over the age of 18.
The numbers are STAGGERING! In the most effective
healing & spiritual way I know-Ive made a most
difficult decision in life-to trust my spirit-my inner
being-and give the best idea I have-for hope-that
someone-many of you-will read this-use it and begin
that first important step toward saving the lives
of our children. One of those steps for defining child
abuse is to teach it in a curriculum setting before
they are college bound!
Remember-"ALL CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED &
As you will see throughout this website-I also have
a desire to discuss and debate various "Life
Mysteries" and spirituality in its varying forms.
This website is dedicated to serious discussion and
I believe that much of the benefits of a childs life
start within the home-a home without spirituality
nor soul direction is where many of our childrens
problems begin The goodness of our children and the
future of our planet begins with the home-however-more
must be done-and the classroom will have to be a place
to teach issues regarding abuse to our children at
a time in their lives-where they can learn the benefits
of proper treatment toward one another and lay the
foundation for proper parenting skills that can one
day make our planet a safer place in which to live
Our schools need to teach in greater power-that the
mind at its earliest learning-is limited-by ourselves-no
one else-nothing limits us-accept us-I believe our
minds, bodies and spirituality are inter-connected
to learn-to heal-and to GROW!
May God Bless our Freedoms & opportunity to Teach-Educate
Learn and GROW! Join me on this different adventure
that we may learn & GROW - from each other!
BALKAN LION - THE PERSONAL STORY
"ALL CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED"
I am Ray "Rajko"
Ranic. AKA "THE BALKAN LION". The adopted
son of Serbian parents who took myself and a younger
brother into their homes, hearts and lives. We were
raised in the Serbian Orthodox faith and culture. At the age of twelve I was introduced to the world
of Tamburitza music (pronounced tam-boor-eet-za).
At one point I remember talking to my dad about how
difficult music was and he reminded me that "quitting
in life doesnt accomplish anything". As for dads
advice-my music instructor first said "Hell never
play-he should quit-he doesnt have what it takes.
He changed his mind a short time later when he heard
me practicing one day by myself and said "I dont
care what you do-buy him an instrument!"
In my life when I get knocked down-I get back up agin-(I
also remember an old timer telling me the view in
life isnt good from that point of view)when all you
can see is someone else standing in your face all
the time. The old timer was right-the view isnt so
good. Sometimes you need help. It was at that time
I heard the tamburitza music of THE BALKAN SERENADERS.
I was hooked. Today 39 years later I am a member of
the nationally known Balkan Serenaders formed by the
late great Nick "Tillie" Klaich. As for
me-SERENADER FOR LIFE!
Those were the formative years where you build your
foundation in life-What hung over my head like "The
Sword Of Damocles" hidden inside of me-were two
names-two families-two childhoods-two sets of memories
and personalities & a lot more. To the present-I
remember the day in 1957 when the police and the Dept.
Of Social Services forcibly removed us from our home-I
was about 41/2 yrs old & began a journey from
age 4 to 6&1/2 after being taken to a Childrens
Aid Society home. I had no idea how to make sense
of what had happened and no way to talk or ask about
As we were separated-adopted-and began new lives over
the years. In hushed tones I would tell my younger
brother stories. He was never sure what to make of
it all. I still remember when I was being introduced
to people I would stick out my hand & say "Hi-I
used to be.....now Im ....! Im sure I drove everyone
nuts around me at the time. As time went on dad died
in 1972. I was 18 with a 14 year old brother &
mom to look after. Tough times. A lot of in-betweens
not written about. I cannot praise the efforts of
mom & dad enough in raising us-an example of unconditional
When mom died in 1994 she left the adoption papers
for us. I had been asking questions about our adoption
over the years but not much information was given/known.
By now it was 1995 and I had spent several months
reading and researching the investigation process
after watching a Ricki Lake show on reunions.
Between 1994 and 1998 I spent years and many hours
too numerous to tally in research regarding each sibling
found. I had some help & blessings along the way.
Two national newspapers covered our story "The
Plain Dealer- Ohio's largest newspaper with the help
of longtime friend and publisher Mr Alex Machaskee
( Ohio Hall of Fame Tamburitzan Musician and World
Communicator) and The Buffalo News featuring stories
by Donn Esmonde & Agnes Palazzetti.
The excellent news coverage, my research, and comments
made by Debbie Merrifield, Erie County Commissioner
of Social Services were most helpful in leading to
the culmination and heart wrenching completion of
my search ending when Judge Joseph S Mattina (recently
retired) opened two sealed files giving me the last
of two siblings (a brother & sister) back bringing
40 years of sibling separation to an end. Ive included
some of the documents shown & even received a
proclamation from the Mayor of Ohio at the time, Michael
R White. In 2004 we celebrated our 7th sibling reunion.
The sum total of my Slavic upbringing, faith, music
background and personal story are what bring to life
the vision and voice to create "THE BALKAN LION."
As you know by now-I was raised by Slavic parents-hence
the "Balkan" portion. The Lion is a voice
and a personality created from "The Balkan Lion
Recording Co" back in 1995 when I began work
on a tape called "Messiahs Rhapsody". I
completed the project in 1997 and received the prestigious
"Presidents Award" from The Tamburitzan
Association of America. While I was working on the
"Messiahs Rhapsody" project I was also searching
for family. When the tape was released I wrote five
names in a heart on the tape insert. They were siblings
I had been looking for but had not located.
In 1997 when I received "The Presidents Award"
from the TAA in Pittsburgh, PA, three siblings still
had not been located. It was as a result of my efforts
94-97 the last of my siblings were located in 1998.
This is where my vision of communication originated
from. It is an attempt to use my life and personal
story of search and reunion as a vehicle of communication.
My story can be told to everyone. Child abuse knows
no boundaries and race is not a factor.
My mission is to make friends-bring healing to communities
while advocating the importance of education regarding
child abuse issues (especially in a classroom setting).
Love your children-educate them on abuse and set them
free! Im shouting from the rooftops---
CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED!"
A final hurdle to conquer...when I was a child I dreamt
of being a super hero-Spiderman-Thor-Superman-Batman-Iron
Man-Daredevil-The X-Men-The Fantastic Four-Captain
America and The Avengers were part of my dream world
or my "Flights of Fantasy" Steve Reeves
was HERCULES on the big screen in the 60s. In my minds
eye he always will be! (there was also 007-James Bond-and
Sci-Fi movies) Arnold to come along shortly. My world
as I knew it was beginning to grow. Along the way
Mickey Mantle found his way in and I was hooked as
a Yankees fan-still am today.
At age 12-I discovered the sounds of Tamburitza music
while I used to rub the paint off the walls at St
Stephens admiring the sounds of THE BALKAN SERENADERS.
Their history of music captured the essence of what
is inside of me. They communicated by the many wonderful
sounds of continental and American music they played
that was such a connecting factor within & outside
of the Balkan community. Today I am a Balkan Serenader
12 years proud (39 years a tamburitzan) and blessed
by every moment shared with these great tamburizan
musicians-Vlad Popovich-Charlie Smilinich- Charlie
Vukovic and saying thanks To Steve Vranjes for all
the hard work & dedication in those early learning
years when I drove everyone nuts learning to play
and finally... paying homage to "The Man"
as we called him-The late great Nick" Tillie
As I look back-I am 51 now-I wanted to be a Balkan
Serenader- I am! I wanted to learn what happened to
my family of brothers and sisters I was forcibly separated
from in 1957- I have. As of 2004 we have been reunited
7 years since our nation-wide reunion of 1998-after
40 years of separation-Of the 15-two have passed on-sadly
As I climb the mountain of "whats next"
on my way to becoming THE BALKAN LION-super hero?
Mild Mannered writer? HMMM-I cant bend steel with
my bare hands-nor leap over tall buildings-I have
no radar vision or super strength-Im not SUPER smart-(but
dont take this as a sign of weakness to take a cheap
shot either!) and like most Marvel super heroes -
I have human flaws. I dont claim to be any more gifted-but
Ive had an interesting life.
I stepped into my Slavic background and have come
forward with a story and a desire to communicate and
become my own kind of personality by crossing boundaries
of nationality-race-creed-and belief system regarding
child abuse education and OTHER areas of interest-like
politics-humor-controversy-heart warming stories and
more-all within the mind and web pages of "The
I also have a deep interest in Life Mysteries &
some of the things that have occurred in my life &
other areas we explore-will leave you shaking your
head in wonderment. I dont wear a cape nor a mask-&
humbly-As I stand before you-not in judgement-but
as a man with some tough roads climbed-humble enough
to thank God for the MANY blessings received while
still-trying to peek over the wall-sometimes with
humor-sometimes with questions-sometimes controversial-but
believing that it will serve a good purpose and I
hope mine-strikes the right note if you will -with
you the reader & critic all rolled into one.
Be kind!- a vision if you will that has stayed with
me since 1995 I have brought to life for the education-communication
and the salvation of abused children. I have had many
roads to salvation in my life and wise enough to recognize
them. My parents who gave myself and my brother a
wonderful chance at life through adoption-my music-education-blessings
and losses-strange occurances & more along the
way- have carved their life inpact into who &
what I am - It is through this life journey &
what Ive learned----that I am---
"THE BALKAN LION"
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BALKAN LION RECORDING COMPANY." "TBL,"
"RRR," "RAJKO," WEBSITE LOGOS
& TRADEMARKS ARE THE SOLE PROPERTY AND PROTECTED
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"RAJKO" RANIC, "THE BALKAN LION,"
"RAJKO," "RRR," "TBL,"
"THE BALKAN LION RECORDING COMPANY" AND
NO OTHER ORGANIZATION UNLESS SPECIFIED. LINKED SITES ARE FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THEY ARE NOT
EXPRESSED APPROVAL BY "THE BALKAN LION,"
"RAJKO," "RRR," "TBL,"
RAY "RAJKO" RANIC, OR "THE BALKAN LION
RECORDING COMPANY," NOR DO THEY REPRESENT APPROVAL
FOR "THE BALKAN LION," "RAJKO,"
"TBL," "RRR," RAY "RAJKO"
RANIC, OR "THE BALKAN LION RECORDING COMPANY."