Monday, March 31, 2008
Emina Bicakcic, the 8-year-old girl who greeted Hillary Clinton when she made her now-infamous visit to Bosnia in 1996, is now a 20-year-old student studying to become a doctor. On hearing of Clinton's exaggerated tale of snipers and running across the tarmac at Tuzla Air Force Base, Bicakcic could only say, "I was surprised when I heard this."
Emina Bicakcic's Story
Her recollection of her meeting with Clinton is calm and unhurried in contrast to Clinton's account:
Bicakcic, asked if she feared any threat of violence that day, said she felt just the opposite.
"No," she said, speaking at her home in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. "I was just excited. I wanted to look [Clinton] in the eye and say, 'Thank you.' "
And Clinton, she said, seemed far more interested in her poem than in dashing for shelter.
"She was really listening," Bicakcic recalled. "She was drinking in every word of my poem."
Her poem begins with the words, "Peace has come."
Bicakcic said she was reluctant to criticize Clinton's account of that day because of a deep appreciation for the US role in ending Bosnia's bloody nightmare.
A picture of the girl's meeting with the then-first lady - signed and inscribed by Clinton - has become a treasured family heirloom.
Has Clinton's "misstatement" and use of Bosnia's tragic past as political fodder cost her Emina's support? Asked whether she supported Barack Obama or Clinton in the Democratic presidential nomination, Emina said she was "staying neutral" because of "very mixed emotions."
Clinton Hugging a Young Emina Bicakcic [CNN]
Emina Bicakcic, 20-years-old