Category Archives: War

Remembering Srebrenica

Today, July 11 is the eighteen year anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the greatest act of genocide during the War in Bosnia. You can read the countless writings on the details of this day and the thousands of men, women and children who lost their lives online. Here at the big american, we’d like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives, to send strength and love to those who were victimized and lost their families. For those who stood by and watched, it is our hope that you have spent and continue to spend every day having learned from your mistakes and living more courageous, more valiant lives.

 

For Akif, who we lost one year ago today. You are with us always. 

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Filed under Bosnia-Herzegovina, War

The School That Was

On an afternoon drive, we came to a crossroads and Akif, my father-in-law, asked Jas to stop the car. At the crux was a very slight hill surrounded by pine trees. If you looked closely among the grass you could see the remnants of a building’s foundation.

“I taught here for six years, from 1966 – 1972” Akif said. He was the only teacher and had anywhere from 30 – 50 students at a time in grades 1 – 4. The pine trees? He planted them himself to make the area nice “for the children” he said proudly.

I looked between the trees and imagined Akif taking his students on science walks in sunny weather, shoveling a path for them in the snow, putting wood in the stove to keep the rows of students scribbling in their notebooks, warm. A scene from Little House on the Prairie only instead of an American flag occupying a corner of the room, there would be  a photo of Tito.

While in this reverie I stepped in it–the way one who has spotted a dog turd ahead on the sidewalk and makes a mental note to avoid it, gets caught up in other thoughts and splat!

“So what happened to it?” I asked, an idiotic question because in Bosnia when something no longer exists, there’s really only one reason for it.

“It was destroyed in the war” Akif replied.

Yes, of course it was, I thought looking at my shoes and trying to come up with something profound to say.

Instead I ventured: “Tata [Dad], you were the only teacher?”

He nodded.

“And the principal too?”

“Ja, ja” he continued nodding.

“Well…who did you eat lunch with?”

He threw his head back and laughed.

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Filed under Bosnia-Herzegovina, Travel, War