Today, my team was working on our group project, when a question regarding the Srebrenica Massacre and how the UN played a vital role in enabling the Serbian Army came up. We discussed the issue at length, yet with no real understanding or authority. Immediately following that discussion a few of us decided to visit the photo gallery just down our street focused on the massacre. Never has such a disgusting reality hit me so hard.
The fee included a twenty minute documentary and a guided tour. The documentary was filled with footage from the battery factory where the Dutch Peacekeepers were sheltering about 6,000 people (mostly women and children), some from outside the factory where 20,000 more were forced to face the uncertain fate of capture by the Serbian army, and even more footage from up in the hills where many men and boys met their demise while hoping to find the free territory Federation of BiH.
Even more moving were the black and white photos that lined the walls, taken in honor and memory of the missing and fallen. Most of these photos were of the dead, the mass graves or the women who never gave up looking for their missing loved ones. Sometimes, as many as 50 men and boys from a single family were slaughtered or never found. Leaving the women and children to spend the rest of their lives in grief, with little closure due to the lack of prosecution or missing loved ones.
As horrible as it was to begin to witness this massacre via film, photos, and emotions portrayed through the tour guide, I know it is very important to try and understand as much as possible, save nothing. I was honored to be able to visit this museum on my own country’s day of independence. What better way to remember my own country’s history and liberation than by beginning to understand another country’s much more recent efforts toward success and independence through what they suffered, as recently as my lifetime.