"Dayton" is much more than the name of the city in Ohio to Bosnia-Herzegovina and its people.
When it is said, thoughts do not turn to current innovation or even our city’s famed sons, the Wright brothers.
It's been twenty years after heated talks here ended a bloody war nearly 5,000 miles a way in Bosnia.
The word "Dayton" still sparks emotion and debates in Sarajevo and other parts of the nation.
Scholars say the Dayton Peace Accords is not a perfect document, but it is credited with saving lives and ending genocide, shelling and mass rapes.
Photos taken during a 2012 Dayton Sister City Committe visit to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Members of the Dayton Sister City Committee placed a wreath from Dayton near a monument to children killed during the siege of the city by Bosnian Serb forces. (Staff photo by Amelia Robinson)
“At the time, I think the people of Bosnia were very thankful for the Dayton Peace Accords," said Hunt Brown, chair of the Dayton Sister City Committee. "It brought an end to the killing and it offered the possibility of a brighter future.”
More than 200,000 people were killed during the war. Another 2 million people were displaced during the conflict.
Numerous dignitaries, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Gen. Wesley Clark, will be in town this week to commemorate the Accords.
Local events are planned, including the 20th anniversary brunch from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Hope Hotel and Richard C. Holbrooke Conference Center. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited.
Here are a few things you should know about the Peace Accords and how Dayton played a role:
- Signed in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995, the Accords were negotiated at the Hope Hotel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base between Nov. 1 and 21.
- Then Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, the chief U.S. peace negotiator, picked Wright-Patterson for the talks and sought to avoid posturing in the media.
- Sarajevo, the capital largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been Dayton's Sister City since 1999. Its multifaceted story began with the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. The 1984 host of the Winter Olympics, the city was under siege during the Bosnian War.
- Key players in talks included Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Serbian President Slobodan Milohostsevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.
- The Accords signify peace in America, but their meaning is more complicated in Bosnia, a country which still has separate primary schools and opportunities for many members of its three major ethnic groups — Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims.