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Fireworks in the Rain: Albania’s Independence Centennial

9:16 AM, Dec 6, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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I wandered into the city’s historical museum, which displays centuries-old gravestones and other artifacts. The current exhibit included a rendition of the American flag in plastic pearls by a Macedonian Albanian, Zeqir Memeti. I was disappointed to learn that no ceremonies would be held at the house where the Albanian flag was raised a hundred years before. The act symbolizing self-determination had been organized then by the father of Albanian independence, an Ottoman diplomat and Bektashi Sufi, Ismail Qemali, whose name was repeated and image reproduced throughout the country for weeks.

So I found a furgon to take me back to Tirana, and reached the capital in time to watch fireworks burst above the city, as a light rain fell. The moment seemed symbolic of Albanian hopes, and of Albanian challenges, as a new century in their history began.

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