Bowling Green’s Bosnian community will commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the deadly Srebrenica Genocide on Saturday by marching downtown 8,372 steps – one for each of the men and boys killed.
“We make sure to hold their memory alive,” said Amer Salihovic, one of the march’s organizers speaking for Bowling Green’s Bosnian community. “We feel obligated that we need to pay our respects to the innocent lives that were lost.”
Bowling Green’s Bosnian community will remember the genocide’s victims through a vigil and march from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Circus Square Park.
Attendees will hear speeches from community members and get the chance to purchase shirts sold to benefit school children in Srebrenica. The community is also donating backpacks to benefit local school kids, Salihovic said.
The killing began in July 1995 after Serbian forces overran the small mountain town of Srebrenica, which had been established by the United Nations as a safe zone under its protection.
“They systematically executed in cold blood 8,372 young boys and men,” Salihovic said, adding that victims ranged from elderly men to newborns.
At the time, Salihovic’s mother was pregnant with him. She and his five other siblings managed to get out of the town to relative safety, but his family wasn’t completely spared from the violence. Salihovic ultimately lost three uncles, his grandfather and several cousins to the violence.
Sadly, when Salihovic’s family moved to Bowling Green, they discovered their story wasn’t unique. Many of his neighbors were haunted by their own losses.
“With this walk we’re standing in solidarity with all of the victims,” he said, including those of the Holocaust and other genocides.
Muamer Razic, who’s also helping to organize the memorial march, will remember his own family’s losses. Although he was too young to remember the violence, Razic relives it through the memories of his surviving family.
“I was actually born during mortar fire,” he said, referring to the hospital where he was born in 1994.
After stepping on a landmine, Razic’s uncle lost both of his legs, and his father, although he survived, still remembers the trauma he faced.
“We don’t want anybody to forget about something that impacted so many lives,” he said.
Growing up in Bowling Green, Razic remembers how his parents would work day and night to rebuild their lives. To this day, he still can’t imagine how they had the courage to endure what they faced.
“Growing up here in the community, it was hard to kind of wrap our heads around it as children,” he said.
When he walks the 8,372 steps this coming Saturday, he hopes to walk in their shoes.
“It’s a really humbling experience,” he said.
(c) 2017 BG Daily News