Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Dana McCabe: Music


(Dana McCabe)
November 1, 2006
mccabe / wooten

Beslan ©2004

About Beslan...

On September 3, 2004, terror came to the small Russian town of Beslan.

On the first day of school, a day of promise and new beginnings, a group of men and women armed with assault weapons raided School No.1 in this town in North Ossetia.

More than one thousand hostages were taken as a three-day siege began. Most of them were children. The attackers allowed no food or water to be given, and many of the children survived by eating flowers they had brought to give their teachers. Temperatures in the gym where they were held were so high that many were forced to shed the festive clothing that they had worn to commemorate the first day of school.

The standoff came to a violent end when a massive explosion, the first of four, destroyed the gym. Many of the hostages then began to flee their prison. As they did so, the terrorists opened fire on them shooting men, women and children in the back as they ran. Pandemonium continued to reign for another 10 hours as surviving terrorists waged a battle with Russian security forces. Amid the chaos of gunfire and mine explosions hostages were rescued by Russian spetznaz soldiers as well as a group of angry local men who had broken through the cordon.

“Wild-eyed men in bloodstained clothes carried dozens of hostages through a maze of gardens adjacent to the school as bullets flew overhead. Some
hostages were brought out already gray with death, others writhed in agony after limbs were torn away in the explosions.” Simon Ostrovsky - Staff Writer - The Moscow Times.

As many as 400 people died in Beslan and many hundreds more injured. Too many of these were children.

Funerals began on Sunday, September 5. Backhoes went to work in a field adjacent to the cemetery to prepare it for those to be buried. This was necessary since the town’s cemetery could not contain the number slain. Funerals continued through the week as rain drenched mourners and turned the makeshift graveyard
to mud.

In keeping with tradition, doors and windows of the homes of those who had died were left open in order to welcome friends and family who want to say goodbye to their loved one.

And so the sound of mourning was everywhere to be heard in Beslan.