His conclusion made me think some more:
They may have retained their lives but lost their homeland and anything resembling an identity. There was very little option for them but to find another place to live, and start rebuilding from scratch, not only in a material but in spiritual sense as well.
The devil of it is, they aren't the only ones. All of us who've been through the 1990s have had to deal with this to some extent. Whether they want to admit it or not, many people's identities were tied into Yugoslavia, socialism, and Tito's cult of personality. Some folks still haven't got over any of them. Others found it easier to slip into the new, custom-made identities furnished by opportunistic politicians. And a few have chosen the thorny path of rediscovering what it truly meant to be a Serb, Croat, Muslim, or whatever.
Whoever it was that said that "you can never go home again" was right. For many people, not just those of mixed ancestry, Yugoslavia was home. That place is no more. There is something else, many something-elses, there now. Things may still look the same, sound, or smell, or taste the same. But the same they are not.
I can understand why many people choose to remember Yugoslavia fondly. Trying to build a new life in a foreign country can be frustrating at times, so to those who left memories are a way to cope. And those that stayed live in a world of cronyism, "transition" and crime, where all the seedy aspects of socialism seem to have endured, and none of the things that made it bearable: unimpeded travel, annual seaside vacations, and a country in which everyone had a job, a car and a place to live (and let's not quibble about the quality of any of those). Time burnishes their memory of Yugoslavia so that only the good things remain. This romantic vision of the past gives them hope that the world wasn't always bleak, cruel and capricious, and that things can be good again.
And they can. They might. But nothing can ever be the way it was.
I'm still trying to decide whether those of us who understand this are better off for it. I don't think I'll ever really know.