Palmyra isn’t only monuments, it holds hearts too.

I took this picture of the ancient city of Palmyra (below), after we had been in a terrible car accident before entering Palmyra during the afternoon after visiting Hama and Homs.
I was 13, I think. And, I didn’t really feel the huge truck bumping into the back of our car. But, the back window was in pieces and once I got out of it, the sight of the car terrified me. It was literally destroyed. But thank God, we had been lucky. Everybody was still safe and sound. We reached the first police station with the help of the people who had witnessed the accident with our car that was still functioning.
It was dark outside when we finally got out of the station and carried our way to Palmyra.
When we finally got there, we found a nice little hotel to stay at. The nicest part of settling down for the night was the owners of the hotel and the people around who helped and reassured us about the accident we just had. They made sure we felt like nothing happened, it felt like they healed us with words and actions.
Of course, the car was still a mess but our state of mind was so much better, we were so grateful for such people crossing our path. It showed us that Palmyra wasn’t only monuments, it held hearts too.
Sometimes, people’s actions and words toward us can change our whole way of seeing the world. And, the day after the accident we woke up with a broken car but a happy heart thanks to the people who showed us that strangers or not, we were Syrians but most importantly we were humans and that the least we could do was to help each other.
Today and for the past four years, the Syrian people have been going through a terrible, monstrous and inhuman war with Syria getting destroyed along the way. A lot of our heritage has been burned down to ashes. When I was younger I was dreaming of the day where I would be able to transmit this heritage to my future children and when Syria started turning into ashes, my dreams did too.
The beautiful ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is in danger. What has happened to the Assyrian heritage in Mosul, Iraq, is now happening to the beautiful ancient ruins of Palmyra. I never thought I’d feel such an ache in my bones. My mind is filled with sweet memories of this ancient city. And, my heart cries the loss of the heritage of my country, Syria. It is hard to live through that, to tell yourself that what once built your identity, no longer exists, that what you once wanted to show your children won’t be there anymore when they are born. I’m grateful my parents brought me there, shared with me what made their own identity. I’m thankful to have met the people that make this city what it is, the people that have worked to protect it. And, I pray for them, for they have been invaded by monsters destroying all their memories, all their hard work, all that made their heart beat.

Palmyre 2006


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