Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Feeling guilty about Sarajevo

Ripituc tweeted a photo today of a Bosnian soldier returning to his village in 1995, coming to the realization that he was its sole survivor. It got me thinking...

I had never even heard of Bosnia-Herzegovina until the spring of 1992, in my high school European history class. Soon after that, I was watching Yugoslavia fracture into pieces on TV.

I remember one evening, watching World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. A Bosnian with an AK-47 was in a high rise building indiscriminately shooting out the window. The building had been heavily shelled. It was just a skeleton of broken concrete. There was no furniture, no wallpaper, nothing.

It was at that split moment, and it was just a brief moment, when I wanted to go to Bosnia, take up arms, and fight. I had never felt that way before (like for Desert Storm) or since.

As a fickle, idealistic, and naive teenager, I talked loudly but didn't do much. My step-brother and his family hosted a traumatized Bosnian refugee family at their Atlanta home for over a year. My former housemate spent a decade in The Hague, investigating and litigating horrific war crimes. The only substantive thing I have done for the war effort was to write a pithy blog post about it in the comfort of my American living room, two decades after war's end.

This video is worth a watch. It chronicles the stories of residents of Sarajevo during the long and cruel siege, when artillery and snipers randomly killed civilians for what seemed like ages.


Ripituc said...

Powerful testimony. I was too young to know about what was happening in Bosnia during the war but now, having seen documentaries and pictures... God it was awful. Sarajevo was a nice modern city where different ethnicities lived together and even intermarried. And to see it reduced to rubble, civilians shelled and shot by snipers just for crossing the street, bombed for going to the market... I understand your feelings completely. Although I'd never really think of enlisting! War is just not for me ;)

Christopher Diamond said...

This doc is good if you have, like, five hours

Ed Kim said...

We were in Seattle and came across a place called Sarajevo Lounge. I'd never seen any sort of Balkan restaurant or any establishment, period. Funny timing of your post...seeing the restaurant made me go back and review the events. I hadn't thought about those atrocious events and needed a refresher, so to speak. It was even worse than I remembered it.

Your post helps us to remember this calamity...humanity would do well to remember it.