It is hard for most Americans to truly understand war – particularly my generation. We see it remotely on television screens and analyzed on Sunday morning news shows but seldom have we come up close and personal with it. In contemporary terms, aside from Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks, our cities have not been shelled and destroyed and ethnic cleansing has never taken place on our soil. My friends in former Yugoslavia are not so lucky. In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten together with several of them – and while they are successful, many having worked for international organizations, their parents are not so fortunate. In their 40’s when the disintegration occurred, most lost their jobs, livelihoods and homes – and ultimately their sense of themselves. They were transplanted to different countries and some never worked again. My friends’ parents are now in their 50’s – struggling to claim pensions and eke out a living by selling off all remaining assets and relying on their children to sustain them. I feel sadness for all of them and the precious years they lost because of a senseless war. I feel happiness for my friends who are not only surviving – but excelling. And I feel thankful that they are able to provide for their parents in a way that most of us will never know.