Of this I am quite sure, if we continue our quarrels between the
past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
— Winston S. Churchill
On December 26, 2003 an earthquake struck the ancient city of Bam in southern Iran killing not less than 30,000 people. That’s ten times as many as died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. As the world’s disaster relief agencies rushed to Bam to help dig out the victims, the number of dead and injured kept rising until the true awfulness of this tragedy became known. More than 41,000 Iranians had died, many of them choking to death as the roofs of their clay homes collapsed, engulfing them in centuries old dust. Tens of thousands more had been injured, and at least 100,000 homeless were huddling together for warmth in make shift shelters and tents on the arid windswept plateau surrounding Bam, where night time temperatures in mid winter seldom rise above freezing.
The Bam earthquake moved me deeply. Its magnitude and drama triggered memories of two other disasters that had punctuated my lifelong association with
Ancient Bam and an aerial photo of
Bam after the devastating earth-
quake of 2003