Monday, September 21, 2015

Success Story

In the early summer of 1996, I was in Sarajevo as part of the NATO peacekeeping forces.  I was at the headquarters and we had pretty much free rein to go around the city.  Actually, we were encouraged to.  Our boss believed that we were there to bring the peace, and that meant doing peaceful things, like going out to restaurants, shopping, and talking with locals.

One of the places I went was the library.  Before the war, this was a big, beautiful building that held irreplaceable documents, books, and artifacts dating back about a thousand years.  But sometime during the war, Serbian forces surrounding the city heard that military forces were using the library's basement, so they shelled the building and set fire to it and everything inside.  A group of us visited it one day and went inside.  It wasn't safe, of course - the building could have collapsed at almost any time.  Years later, I made this painting of the scened from just inside the front door:

Over the years, I've wondered what happened to that building.  I heard that they were trying to restore it, but hadn't heard anything else.  Until today.  Bosnia has completed the restoration of the old library and it is now reopened.  Here is what the library looks like now, from the same viewpoint:

Fantastic.  Just fantastic.

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