Month: November 2003

Of scarecrows, blue helmets and silver cities

* Originally published in The Cleburne News on November 26, 2003.When I was 20-years old, the Bosnian village of Srebrenica became home to Europe's worst massacre since World War II. As a blue-helmeted battalion of UN peacekeepers looked on, Bosnian Serbs entered the isolated town and slaughtered more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim refugees with Nazi-like indifference. When I was 21-years old, I was deployed to the region as part of the American-led coalition whose mission was to bring two things: peace, and those murderers to justice. The first was achieved. The second was altogether not. I'm now 29-years old, and the man chiefly responsible for the Srebrenician genocide remains at large. Meanwhile, the mass graves he left behind are still being exhumed. When I consider the miles and memories I've collected during those nine years, I'm filled with a sense of shame and disappointment. But a recent event at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague offers a glimmer of hope.A Bosnian Serb named Momir Nikolic negotiated a plea last month in exchange for providing details and testifying against those who actually ordered the genocide, namely a Bosnian Serb named Ratko Mladic. Nikolic's crime? He participated in the beheading of 100 villagers and the delivery of their corpses to secret mass graves. He got 20 years. As the tribunal presses forward, two questions still scream from Srebrenica. How could a battalion of heavily armed UN soldiers allow genocide to occur in its presence, and how can Maldic remain free? Before…

JFK’s Berliner speech remains timeless

* Originally published in the Gadsden Times on November 3, 2003.Today marks the 40th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination, and while America remembers its heartbreak, historians will reflect upon his many virtues and vices.Some will search for Kennedy among his highs: successfully challenging mankind to step upon the moon and the nuclear Soviet to step away from Cuba. Others will look amid his lows: flagrant infidelity and a shocking death. However, my foremost memory of Kennedy doesn't rest upon rockets or missiles, assassinations or women, but upon what leaders are most often remembered for - words."Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was `civis Romanus sum,"' Kennedy said to a crowd of thousands in West Berlin, where the Iron Curtain descended in the form of its infamous wall. "Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is `Ich bin ein Berliner."'Presidents are long remembered for things they say, rather than things they do, and that phrase became instant history. A hundred years from now, Kennedy's administration may be summarized within a single chapter of a high school history book. That chapter will probably be about the Cold War, and those four words will most likely headline his section.Kennedy, who was shot only six-months later, went on to say: "Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. É You live in a defended island of freedom, but your…