09 February, 2006

More about Sarajevo

Sarajevo has an extremely rich, if disturbing, history.
This plaque reads “From this place on 28 June 1914 Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia”:

And here is the bridge where they were shot, marking the start of World War I:

This is the 'eternal flame,' a monument established in honor of those who died in World War II:

According to legend, the flame never went out during the most recent war.

The most recent war was pretty awful. Evidence of the destruction is everywhere, and it is hard to imagine how much worse it used to be.

Last night we watched the movie “Welcome to Sarajevo.” You should watch it, too. There is a lot of actual footage spliced in, and even though I’ve only been here a few days it is so weird to recognize the city in the movie and think that just a few years ago people here were living through hell and I had absolutely no idea that any of it was happening.

Tim, Sara, and I met this guy in a coffee shop on Tuesday who experienced the war first-hand. His family escaped to Croatia early on, but decided to come back in order to face what was going on and not abandon their friends. He made it back into the city before all the roads were closed off, but unfortunately his family did not. So, from the ages of 9 to 12 he lived alone with his uncle in Sarajevo under attack. He was shot 3 times. Later on he lived in the U.S. for a few years- in New York until Sept. 11, 2001 and then in Colorado. Now things are going well for him- his family is back here, he is in school and has a job and a car. He speaks Bosnian, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic (in which he has memorized the Koran), and maybe a few other languages. He is probably the most interesting person I have ever met and I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to live through the things that he has.

1 comment:

Matt Mikalatos said...

At first I thought you guys were looking reflectively into the eternal flame. Then I realized that you were warming your hands.

Have you guys hung out with the Macedonia or Bosnia stint team?