Amir Suljic lost three uncles in the Srebrenica massacre in which 8,373 Bosnians were killed during the Bosnian War. His parents, however, survived.
Suljic joined hundreds of other people Sunday afternoon at the Simon Estes Amphitheatre in Des Moines to remember the mostly men and boys killed in July 1995 in three towns in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“It still exists to us,” Suljic said. “We suffer that every day, and every year when July 11 comes around, we have to be reminded of who we lost and how we lost them.”
A remembrance walk started at Wells Fargo Arena and ended at the Simon Estes Amphitheatre, where Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie spoke at the memorial service.
“What took place at that time is an atrocity that should never happen again -- the largest single loss of human life on European soil since World War II,” Cownie said.
There are some people who deny the genocide ever happened, which is why remembering what happened in Srebrenica is important, Suljic said.
“All humans and all people should know, no matter if they are Bosnian or not,” he said.
“Peace is what we look for,” said Amra Klempic, of the Bosniak American Association of Iowa. “Peace is what brings us together, and it is so important for everyone.”
Sen. Charles Grassley, who could not attend the service, wrote in a letter: "Today's event serves to celebrate and promote the diversity and heritage of the Bosnian American community. I commend you for your activism and encourage you to continue your work to promote the culture, language and history of Bosnians."