I just got finished watching "The Children of Beslan" on HBO OnDemand. It's available until October 9th and I highly recommend watching it.

I have a special closeness to the victims of Beslan. I guess because it was such a horrifc attack against innocent children, I really felt a need to do something. I went to the Russian Embassy website to see if they had anything on there and they had a link to an organization - http://www.moscowhelp.org/en/index.html . I sent an e-mail and then decided to put AboutNewJersey.com under my name. Including AboutNewJersey.com set into motion more than I ever thought possible. The person the e-mail went to was also involved with the Russian Yellow Pages (a Russian language phonebook in NJ), and asked if I would help out with their "New Jersey Tourism" pages, which I did. I had also found out that they had children coming to the area for various operations. I told them that I would be happy to set up activities for them if they had anyone coming out.

As It ended up, they did have two girls and their father coming out around Christmas time. Because of the tme of year, coming up with activities for 11 year old girls would be difficult. Also, it would have to be worked around their operation schedules. They were going to be staying in Philadelphia, and so I felt the best thing would be Princeton. There just wasn't a lot of time and so I contacted McCarter Theatre and asked for tickets to "A Christmas Carol" so they could see that, then we'd go through Princeton University and get something to eat. I did try to get them to spend some time at my old school - St Pauls in Princeton on Nassau Street, but I was told by the principal there that they couldn't allow it for "insurance reasons". I won't make any comments concerning how I feel about their attitude, but let me tell you - the school doesn't hold the same memories it once did nor the church.

It was difficult because they didn't speak english, so Oksana, the person who I had come into conact with had to translate. Except with talking to Oksana, I didn't ask them or their father about the terrorist attacks. I wanted to let them forget a bit about things that happened, even though I know it really couldn't be far from their mind. Their mother was killed in the school. One girl had a damage done to her leg and the other girl had problems with her eye.

We had a good time. I was concerned with the play because they didn't speak English, but Oksana said that they enjoyed it and were able to follow along. We ended up eating at the Annex on Nassua St (which is no longer there). I figured that place had a large menu and there would be something they would like. It was funny, one of the girls ordered ravioli, she had never had tomato sauce or ravioli before. So much for them was a new experience. The father really liked this one building at Princeton University, so when we were heading back to the car, I had asked him if he would stand in front of it so I could take a picture of him. I always think about that picture. Him standing by himself and I wonder if I should have taken it or not. He smiled and everything - and I guess he likes that picture, but I just can't stop thinking of him standing there without his wife - by himself.

Before leaving, we went into the bookstore and I got them some gifts, I got the two girls suffed tigers and I got the father a book on New Jersey. I think I probably got them a couple of other things too.

I often think about them though, I wonder how they are doing. Now that I have seen this documentary, it really makes me think of them even more. The movie is told from the point of view of the surviving children and what they experienced. I just can not believe how anyone can do this to children. They were just going to their school, happy. It's so hard to understand and to know that they have to live with these memories for the rest of their lives. They lost parents and friends. They were emotionally tortured for three days. They had no food or water. So much also comes out that the news never said. For instance, when they finally did escape, there was a group of kids who ran to a foutain out by the school. The girl who was telling about this in the movie said she was getting ready to walk over when a terrorist from the school fired a rocket at the fountain and blew the kids up right in front of her.

One boy told about how the terrorists told everyone to give them their cell phones. Well one girl didn't give them her cell phone and it later rang - so they shot her.

It was such a powerful movie, it's just so hard to think that there can be such evil in this world as to take school children hostage like that. They will never be the same, the town will never be the same.

I also just found this site also - Friends Forever: Tragedy in Beslan