20 Years, Countless Lives

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Twenty years ago, on April 5, 1992, to be exact, the brutal siege of Sarajevo began. For nearly four years, the city of Sarajevo, the capital of newly independent Bosnia-Herzegovina, was attacked by Serbian forces stationed in the hills around the city. Everyday life soon came to a halt as thousands of people died while thousands more suffered from the deprivation caused by a blockade.

The quote above is from the St Louis Beacon which looks at – Bosnians in St. Louis: Reflection 20 years after start of war

The St Louis region is home to an estimated 60,000 people of Bosnian descent. It is the largest community in the world outside of Eastern Europe. We in the soccer community have been blessed by their presence as our neighbors, our friends, our teammates and opponents on the pitch. Each of them has a story. I invite you to learn more about the conflict and the survivors efforts to establish themselves in our city. Here are some resources but even better, reach out individually.

The Post-Dispatch offers a look at their experiences in Bosnia and here, their new home – Bosnians in St. Louis area mark a time of trouble

Fontbonne has an exhibit this month that takes a look back – Twenty years after the start of the genocidal war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a photographic exhibition and events at Fontbonne University will commemorate the survivors. The exhibition, “Survival in Sarajevo: How a Jewish Community Came to the Aid of Its City,” is traveling to St. Louis from Vienna for display, April 1 – April 24. The exhibit tells the story of La Benevolencija, a Jewish humanitarian aid agency that provided aid to the besieged city of Sarajevo, without regard to religious or ethnic background of the Serbs, Croats and Muslims it served.

The photo at the top comes from an event in Sarajevo: In the capital Sarajevo, 11,541 empty chairs – estimated to be the number of those killed during the lengthy siege of the city by Serb forces – were set out for a musical tribute. An estimated 100,000 people were killed and nearly half the population were forced from their homes. Speaking to the BBC, Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said that the gesture was for those lost on all sides, “Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and others”.

See video of the ceremonies in Sarajevo

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