DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – On Wednesday two dozen students from Bosnia-Herzegovina are in Dayton learning about the city’s role in ending the genocide and war in that country 24 years ago. None of the students were alive when war ripped families apart in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
But they know about the city of Dayton, and why it was so important in the peace effort.
Filip Hadziahmetovic is a 17-year-old from Sarajevo. He says, “The Dayton Peace Accords were just a temporary fix, unfortunately, to the war that was going on. We have still not agreed what to do after Dayton.”
Bosnian students learned some of their own history Wednesday at the Dayton Peace Museum’s newest exhibit.
Nika Weber is a 16-year-old from Mostar. She says, “Kids my age talk about it more than grownups do. Grownups don’t want anything to do with it anymore.”
Back home, the wounds are still fresh. The war ended just 24 years ago, after hundreds of thousands of people were killed.
Mary Ramey is the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Dayton Peace Museum. She says, “When we say ‘war’, you think of armies facing off against each other. That is not what this war was. Snipers in the hills around Sarajevo picking people off, they were lobbing artillery shells into marketplaces.”
The museum highlights the peace that was brokered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Ramey says, “Genocide means more than just killing people. They were trying to kill the culture. They were trying to erase it.”
The Dayton Peace Accords were never intended to be a long-term solution, just a framework for a Bosnian self-governing future. Despite tension, the peace has held so far.
Filip Hadziahmetovic says, “In the short term, if things remain as they are, I am pessimistic. But in the long term? No. I am patriotic and optimistic.”
Nika Weber says, “Our group gets along perfectly even though we’re from different nationalities or religions. This is proof that it’s no problem to get along.”
Mary Raney says it took nine months to put together the exhibit, and they leaned heavily on the time and effort of volunteers. She says they took care to translate the wall panels into Bosnian in time for the students’ visit.