Transitional Fossil

" The question isn't "who is going to let me"; it's "who is going to stop me".
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Cellist of Sarajevo

This is an except from the ICS Feature Article: September/October TUTTI CELLI Newsletter:

On May 27th, 1992, a bakery in Sarajevo which happened to have a supply of flour was making bread and distributing it to the starving, war-shattered people. At 4 p.m., a long line stretched into the street. Suddenly, a shell fell directly into the middle of the line, killing 22 people outright and splattering blood and gore over the entire area.

A hundred yards away lived a 37-year-old man named Vedran Smailovic. Before the war he had been the principal cellist of the Sarajevo Opera Company--a distinguished and civilized job, no doubt. When he saw the massacre outside his window, he was pushed beyond his capacity to endure anymore. Driven by his anguish, he decided he had to take action, and so he did the only thing he could do. He made music. Every day there after, at 4 p.m. precisely, Mr. Smailovic would put on his full formal concert attire, and walk out of his apartment into the midst of the battle raging around him. He would place a little camp stool in the middle of the bomb-craters, and play a concert to the abandoned streets, while bombs dropped and bullets flew all around him. Day after day he made his unimaginably courageous stand for human dignity, for civilization, for compassion, and for peace. As though protected by a divine shield, he was never hurt, though his darkest hour came when, taking a little walk to stretch his legs, his cello was shelled and destroyed where he had been sitting.

The news wires picked up the story of the extraordinary man, sitting in his white tie and tails on a camp stool in the center of a raging, hellish war zone--playing his cello to the empty air.


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