Sead Bekric at his father's 2010 burial, surrounded by relatives. By Enver Bekric.
When Claire's relationship with Tony ended, she moved to Florida. Sead and his younger brother Enver went with her. For some time they all lived together in one house. Enver, now 29, works as a medical assistant in a doctor's office and has his own place.
"[Enver] is one of those six feet tall, ripped guys that has blonde women all around him at the beach," said Sead of his brother. "I have accent and he don't," he added with more wonder than jealousy.
Sead, now 32, says he is enormously grateful to Claire, whom he describes as his mother, his friend, his everything.
"She pushed me big time into life, saying you can do this, you can do that." At Claire's encouragement, Sead went to college and graduated with a degree in international relations and global affairs. He started the Balkan Café in Pinellas County, Florida, which served such traditional Balkan cuisine as cevapcici, ribbons of beef fried with onions. It was a place where people from the war would come to talk. Sead later sold the café and started a business selling computer-screen magnifiers and lights to people with poor vision. When the economy slowed, he closed the business. Now, he is thinking about getting his master's degree in political science.
Survival has not been easy for the Bekric family, and neither the struggle nor the pain ended when Mladic's guns finally went silent. Mevludin Oric lived through the massacre but is now separated from his wife, who lives with her mother in Tuzla. He has had difficulty finding and keeping work in the fractured Bosnian economy and drinks heavily. Although he plans to testify against Mladic before the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, it will never bring back the life he once had.
"We weren't surprised to hear about Mladic being arrested. We knew he was in Serbia, protected by the Serbian government. It's not a closure. Our loved ones will never be returned to us," said Sead.
The Bekric family is dispersed across two continents and each member copes daily with memories of war that are difficult to dislodge. Sead's unmarried sister, whom he requested not be named, is in a mental institution in Tuzla. When she lived in California, doctors there diagnosed her with schizophrenia, but Sead believes she suffers instead from post-traumatic stress. He says that she continually relives the sexual attacks she experienced in Srebrenica, assaults he was forced at gunpoint to witness.
Although he is blind, Sead still sees in his dreams.
"I have a horrible disgusting dream where I see a guy coming toward me to get me. I keep shooting at him, and I see him full of holes and blood but he keeps coming at me and slices me with an axe. It's the kind of dream where you keep running but can't escape."
When he awakens from this dream, Sead remembers Srebrenica, the wounded, and the blood he saw there in 1993, the last images his eyes ever registered. He hopes he will be asked to testify against Mladic at the International War Crimes Tribunal for the attack on the schoolyard.
"It fills a need for justice, but it does not bring anyone back to life."
Despite the Serb army's dedicated efforts toward ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Sead believes the final, most important story of the war is that the effort failed. He is convinced that it failed, and that such efforts will always fail, no matter where they are tried, because it is simply impossible to eradicate one religious, racial, or ethnic group from the face of the planet.
"Hitler had superior weapons and he couldn't do it, even though he killed six million Jews. No one could succeed in Bosnia either," he said.
While Mladic faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violation of the laws or customs of war, Sead will be raising his family. He has a five-year-old son named Elvis, and now lives in Dunedin, Florida, with his Serbian girlfriend, Natasha Vilaret, with whom he has an 18-month-old son, Adam.
"I feel lucky to be alive," said Sead. "I love this country. People live together here, Muslim, Croat, Serb, without fighting. That is what we wanted in Bosnia."