AK 47 Stories: Peja, Kosova. Flag Day. Saturday, November 28, 1999.
Kosova was a bit like that that first winter after the war – cold, dark, and chaotic. Mary was 7 months pregnant when we moved there. When it came time to give birth, we couldn’t count on heat and running water at the hospital near our house in Peja, so we went down to Greece. Luke was born by c-section at St. Luke’s Hospital in the town of Panorama near Thessaloniki. My parents met us there and came back to Kosova with us a few days after the birth.
Three days later was Albanian Flag Day. For Kosovar Albanians it was the first flag day of freedom, and boy did they celebrate! They didn’t have fireworks. (A lot of them didn’t even have houses; they were living in UNHCR tents.) But the one thing they did have was AK47s and plenty of ammunition. All day long there was uninterrupted gunfire.
The next day my dad was going to preach, and I was going to translate for him. We had decided to go through the sermon together ahead of time to make sure that I knew how to say everything that he intended to say. While we were doing this, there was a sudden burst of gunfire so close and so loud that it rattled the plate glass window that we were standing in front of. “Umm, would we be more comfortable doing this lying down on the ground?” my dad quipped.