On April 7, 1941 the Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade, Yugoslavia at the start of World War II. I cannot recall any personal acts of heroism or of fear on my part; after all, I was all of 8 months old. I do not remember, but I am told that the town house next door was struck by a bomb that failed to explode – lucky me.
On April 16, 1944, Orthodox Easter Sunday, Belgrade was bombed once again, this time it was carpet bombed by the Allies including the United States Air Force. Six hundred bombers attacked the town, this I remember. I was out of harms’ way high up on Dedinje, a hill, miles away. I remember being on a terrace watching the planes fly by and the dust and smoke of the explosions.
In May, 1999 I was in Belgrade when it was bombed yet again, this time by supposedly precise, surgical strike NATO missiles. I confess that I was cowering in fear in the dark recesses of the Intercontinental Hotel’s Piano Bar when the missiles hit the Chinese Embassy some 30 blocks away. No tales of guts and glory here – a time when other civilians were standing on Belgrade’s bridges to prevent their destruction.
I can go on – my tail between the legs scramble out of Port Harcourt, Nigeria in May, 1968 during the Biafra War; my missing the Sergeant Doe coup in Monrovia, Liberia by 2 days; my role as hostage in the hijacking of American Airline Flight 293 in June, 1979 or running into and stepping promptly out of the way of Arkan and his mercenaries during the Bosnian War in the 90’s.
During my career I was never a news person or a politician. I was a hired hand, a lawyer. I did not need macho credibility, “creds”, to peddle myself nor did I need them to run for election. I sold concrete results not fabrications. In other words I did not have to lie, to misstate the truth, or in the latest Brian Williams’ euphemism to “conflate” two facts into one big fat lie.
Hillary Clinton, the consummate politician needs “creds” to be one of the boys in order to run for President of the United States. She cannot point to military service and derring-do so she invents. Remember her tall tale of landing in Tuzla, Bosnia “under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base”. A lie exposed by a photo of her arrival complete with flowers and a little girl reading a poem.
Which brings me to my Brian Williams story. I met him only once in an elevator in an apartment building on 80th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City. I was going to a dinner party when he stepped into the elevator. At the time he had just joined NBC evening news. His report that evening on Yugoslav sanctions was wrong and I told him so. His comment “That’s news to me, anyway that’s TV” was made as he walked out the door with that lopsided smirk on his face.
Today I am just a columnist, you may believe me or disagree with me – I do not claim to tell you the truth – after all I am a lawyer. We should want our news casters, journalists, politicians and would be world leaders held to a higher standard, or at least tell the truth.
Deyan Ranko Brashich, an attorney, was a longtime Washington, Conn., resident and a frequent contributor. He is the author of Letters from America and Contrary Views. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com .