Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Siege of Sarajevo - 30 years on

 It was 30 years ago when the first children were killed in the Siege of Sarajevo, a theater in the Bosnian War.

(aside: If you want a fantastic book about this - and it is fascinating - read The Cellist of Sarajevo. It is a good and heartwarming story of a Cellist who decides to play a piece of classical music every day in the bombed-out city.*)

I know it isn't nearly as famous as World War I, Veteran's Day, or Remembrance Day in England (all 11/11) - and for most of us in the West - not as important. Even in Bosnia, the locals try to forget the war when possible. The bullet holes have been cleared, and the "roses" of Sarajevo are disappearing.

Those are great things. But they cannot erase the memories of the thousands that were killed as the world looked on, unwilling to help stop the crush of war. Now, the attackers (Serbian Bosnians) claim it never happened, and the thousands of Muslim and Christian graves are propaganda. 

What strikes me hard about this war and killing is that it destroyed the idea that war can't happen in Europe. It destroyed the idea that people who live in peaceful coexistence will continue that after small changes. And it depended on separating our Yugoslavian people into "races" that cannot be seen by most of us. For them, the differences between Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and Muslims are critical and racial. It is hard for Americans to understand. We may not be the "melting pot" we were, but religion does not hold the sway to drive people to kill and main. Well, for most people, the attacks on Jews right now freak me out, but I think hope that this heightened hatred is temporary.

*One again, The Cellist of Sarajevo is a short and uplifting book. It also rather matter-of-factly takes the reader into the daily life where getting bread can randomly be deadly.

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