War Survivor’s Story

Remember These Seconds

I am sure that the average person does not know the number of the seconds in three years, yet 3,460,800 seconds is a very long time. Those seconds, from 1991 to 1994, changed my life. They also changed the way I value the things in my life. Many people, especially young people, value mostly material things. The most important things to them are what car they drive or how big their house is. When I was young, my way of thinking was similar to today’s adolescents way of thinking. I completely understand them and their motives to get respect from others while possessing material things.
I realize today’s youth are still young and inexperienced. Their reaction to life’s value is a sweet, innocent reaction; they do not have any war experience. Since I do have that experience from my country, I feel responsible to tell them about war and its impact on many people’s lives, as well as my life. That experience made me count the seconds in each day. “Why should we count the seconds? That sounds crazy!”- young people might say. Maybe it sounds crazy, but these seconds are very important in their lives. In a split second, the time a bullet needs to reach them, they can lose their lives. If they imagine a situation where thousands of bullets, bombs, grenades, sniper-shots are coming from every direction, I am sure they would understand the importance of each second. If they imagine “sleeping” completely dressed with shoes on and ready to run away, they would understand all the danger I was exposed to. I say “sleeping”, but there was no possibility for real sleep. I remember, like it happened today, these insomnia filled nights. With my eyes closed, still awake and terribly afraid for my family, I dreamed about FREEDOM. The worst thing for me was looking at my five-year-old son sleeping in a hard and uncomfortable bed, waking up constantly with the same questions: “Where are my brothers? Where is my father? Why are not’t they coming back? I miss them so much!” Those questions broke my heart; I did not have the answers to them. The only answer I was able to give him was: “I don’t know. Please be patient. You will see them again for sure, but I can’t tell you when. You will see them again – I am positive!” That was my wish and my hope. Almost six months, I did not heard anything about my two other sons. They went to buy some food at very begging of the war. Shortly after they went on the other side of Neretva River, terrible bombing has begun. All bridges were blown up, so they could not able to come back. On the other hand, my husband was taken away from us by the military. Almost two years, I did not know anything about him. Even in that situation, I never lost hope and determination. Somehow, I really believed I will see them again. After three years, my dream came true. My family got together and left our country for Germany. “Finally, we got a FREEDOM!”- I thought. Five years later, my family left Germany and arrived in the United States. That was the end of our eight-year-long journey through war and refugee times.
I wish the young people, as our future bearers, especially future politicians, to remember these 3,460,800 seconds as a guide for making their decisions. I wish them to have NO such of memories as I have. I wish them to understand the most powerful word FREEDOM. I also feel sadness when I remember how many young people were not as lucky as my family. Only one split of second took their lives and no one could make it better now, but our young people and future politicians could make the world a better place to live. They just need to remember how important split seconds are, so they will never have to count them, as I did.


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