A Message from RandyNovi Sad, Yugoslavia
May 10, 1999
It has been one hell of a week, in the most literal sense. On Sunday last, they shut off our electricity which has been coming in spurts since then. The problem is, of course, that water pumps work on electricity. So when the part of town with the pump gets voltage, we get water. When we get watts, there's no water. And so on. So, you gather water, then heat it up to bathe your children (and yourself!) and go through the whole cycle again. I am a living witness to the fact that you can bathe a family of four on one gallon of boiling water, mixed with cold. Despite the fact that my dear NATO friends say that electricity is a valid military target, one must keep this in mind. As well as the fact that bakeries need power and water to make bread, dairies need power and water to produce milk, and waterworks need power and water to produce, well, water. BUT THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF YUGOSLAVIA.
Apart from the above mentioned inconveniences, there are also the daily eruptions which wake my wife, myself and my children. On Monday, they blew up the TV station, in two sorties, which is no more than 800 yards from my home as the crow flies, interrupting my story about Odysseus and later Jasmina's story about Moses for our son, Luka. He said "Wow, that scared me!" and I said, "Wow, me too!". They had dropped three 2000 pound bombs on the building, demolishing the TV station where both my wife and I had worked in the past to spread knowledge of world culture in the four most common languages of this region. When I saw the footage of what was left, I had no alternative but to cry. BUT THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF YUGOSLAVIA.
On Thursday, our NATO friends tried again to hit an empty military barracks in a highly populated part of Novi Sad and missed entirely. Three bombs were released. Two of them fell, thank God, into an empty field. One, however, landed between two apartment complexes, striking at the very foundation of an apartment building. All windows in the area were blown out, and the building which was struck now looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It's only a question of time before it falls over. Luckily, ONLY six individuals were wounded because they were sitting and eating lunch when the bombs fell. BUT THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF YUGOSLAVIA.
On Friday afternoon, as I tried to help little Sara with her colic, the NATO buttheads struck again. I heard and felt ten powerful detonations which shook the entire apartment and rattled the windows as I carried young Sara in my arms. The AA fire was horrendous as the jets screamed overhead. The outcome was that an ancient monastery in the nearby hills was decimated, as was the Monument to the Victims of Fascism from WWII. In addition, that empty barracks was hit again, this time successfully turning the remaining firewood into matchsticks. BUT THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF YUGOSLAVIA.
Last night was quiet here. NATO was busy in Belgrade, blowing up the Chinese embassy (collateral damage, I doubt it!) and the, long ago emptied, Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs. Not to mention the fact that they dumped a load of cassette bombs on the town of Nis (pronounced "Neesh"), killing innocent people in a market and injuring people in the local hospital, both of which were a good two miles (roughly three kilometers) from the target. Collateral damage? I doubt it! BUT THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF YUGOSLAVIA.
All at the expense of the American (and European) taxpayer.
My family is holding up well. We are worried about the ecological catastrophe which might result from the bombings, and we are clearly concerned about what will happen once the bombings cease. The industry of this country has been destroyed almost entirely. We will not be able to feed ourselves, and much less the returning refugees. There will be problems with heating, food supply, electricity and water because of what NATO has done. Even travelling to any other place in Serbia will be a real venture. Imagine that going from Decatur to Atlanta might take as much as four hours because of circumspect routing! Or from San Antonio to Austin! People's lives have been annihilated here. The suffering has only begun.
And we continue to suffer, also, because of the Albanian minority which has been thrust into the mountains and the refugee camps. Each child's face on the news reminds us that the bad decisions of a small group of politicians has caused horrible human suffering for over 12 million people.
In closing, I will offer you the prayer that we have begun to say each day over our lunch. Whisper it yourself, wherever you might be, and remember all of those who are suffering because of the evil decisions of men throughout this world.
Thank you, oh Lord, for all that is beautiful and good in this world. Thank you for giving us the love in our home and this food. Be with those who have no home, or love, or food, and comfort them as only You can. Free the captive. Shelter the weak. Give wisdom to those who hold our futures in their hands. Amen.