Monday, July 16, 2012

Unusual Friends: Don't Let a War Get in Your Way

If a U.S. soldier shot down during the Balkan War can make friends with the Yugoslav Captain who shot him down, just imagine what you can do.

Dale Zelko, a US F117A stealth pilot, and Zoltan Dani, the Yugoslav missile colonel who shot him down during the Balkan War, met and became friends a couple years ago.  Their families have also met and a friendship has begun.

Optimistic Film is creating a documentary, The Second Meeting, about their reunion, which includes video journals by the two soldiers and live filming of their meetings.  In a review by The Wild Rooster, an international journalist's blog about the Balkans, the author states that, "Serbian documentary maker Željko Mirković has produced a film that is grounded in a message of reconciliation."

When it all comes down to it, folks, we are all just human, trying to support our families and doing the best we can.  Get out their, Spouses.  It's amazing what any gesture of respect and reconciliation can do for world peace.  Seriously.  We are diplomats too, believe it or not.  I became a true believer of that during our first tour in Mexico when our neighbor, during her tortilla-making demonstration, smiled and said to me, "I didn't know Americans could be so nice," then frowned and said, "But you sure don't know how to cook."  

I know "world peace" sounds a bit, well, lofty, but I really believe our friendships have a ripple effect.  For example, from experience, I know Balkan and Latino neighbors talk.  I mean, you can't do anything without someone in the neighborhood noticing (I love that.  "It takes a village . . ." ).  So, the action doesn't have to be grand.  I'm talking about a smile, a "hello" and "thank you" in the host country language, and an effort to be a part of their world.  That might mean going to the local market and visiting the same vendors every week (see 6 Ways to Feel at Home in Your New Home), teaching someone to speak your native tongue, or volunteering at a local charitable organization.  Reach out.  It makes a difference.  Don't let a war, or fear, or excuses, get in your way.  Dale and Zoltan didn't.  Your effort will reap peace.  What else can I say?

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