Muslim woman covers the yellow star of her Jewish neighbor with her veil in the streets of Sarajevo in 1941,

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My homeland is a beautiful mess. In a half-mile radius in the center of Sarajevo you can visit an Orthodox Church, a Catholic Cathedral, a Muslim Mosque, and Jewish Temple. There have been periods of positive collaboration and times of utter destruction. When times get tough, people always blame the other. But even in times of mess and destruction, moments of altruistic humanity occur as demonstrated by this picture. I have two stories from the civil war in the 1990’s to demonstrate this further.

Little background: I was 5 when the war started in 1992. My mother is Orthodox and my father is Muslim. We remained on the “Bosnian” side during the war.
When the war started we moved from one of the bigger cities to the countryside where my father was born because it was safer. Half a mile away was a Serbian village. They remained in their homes for the first year when the war started. Eventually, they thought it would be better if they re-located to the “Serbian” part of the country. Families moved one by one. One of the last left was an old couple. One day, the man simply abandoned his wife and left without her. She was too frail to go on her own. For a year she stayed with my family in our home until we were able to locate her relatives. I would like to think that we did an incredibly humane thing because these were our neighbors, our friends, our family.

The second story my father told me. Big part of the war was handle in the trench warfare style. The soldiers were no more than quarter mile away from each other. One of the Bosnian soldier’s daughter had wandered off from a nearby village and was found by the Serbian soldiers. The Serbian soldiers called out the mans name and when he responded they told him they had found his daughter. All firing was put on hold until the daughter could walk over to the side of his father.

I hold on to moments like these as a small sign of hope that one day we will be able to reconcile what had happened in the past.

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