KENNEWICK, WA - Mirko Micic is a local business owner, father, and quite the inspiration. He came to America 20 years ago after a civil war broke his home country apart.
"You were a teenager growing up in the former Republic of Yugoslavia," said Tracci Dial. "Can you describe that for me?"
"I was 14 years old when the war started," Mirko said. "I lost a lot of family. Like 18 relatives, my family. They killed my father between like me and you"--he gestures to the space between them--"maybe four or five feet. They shot him. Killed him. I was there too. I have two bullets in my knee and I survived because I pretended to be dead."
"How did you recover from that?" Tracci asked.
"It's taken a long time," Mirko answers. "You will die and never forget."
"So you lived in a war zone. What did that look like for a teen boy?"
"It looks like [a] movie. From the beginning. Something happens to you and when you run for your life... like, 'oh my God, is this really happening?'" said Mirko.
"What were your ideas of America back then?"
"It was totally different because of how they teach us in school and stuff. Totally different pictures of the USA. When I came here I didn't have any money, I wanted to go back. Now it's totally different. I'm here. I have a wife and we have three kids so that's my home now."
"In fact, your son is 11... just three years away from how old you were when you went through some really traumatic things," Tracci pointed out. "What is it like looking back at your life as a teenager versus how your kids have grown up?"
"Oh my goodness, if I told you I went to bed and didn't have any food to eat sometimes, you couldn't believe me," Mirko replied. "Most people here don't believe you and it happened to me. I didn't have a bicycle, I didn't have new shoes. Even when I came to [the] United States, I came in flip flops. I still have those in my garage. I'm keeping them. So my kids... it's night and day difference."
"You came to America; soon after you started working here at USA Brake & Auto. You said you knew very little English at the time. In seven years, you bought the place and now you're the owner doing super well for yourself and your family!"
"You have to have some plans in your head if you want to do and how to do everything," Mirko explained. "You have to be lucky and you have to be good, too. Those two things. Lucky. Meet people at the right time and be honest. Don't steal, don't do things I call them stupid - I don't know if that's the right words to say. Treat everyone how you wanted to be treated if you go somewhere."
"I find it interesting that you say you count yourself lucky - at the same time you're telling me about all the horrors you've gone through over in Bosnia."
"I could [have] died over there one hundred times and I think God was looking for me, saving [me] because he took a lot from us and my family. I was almost two years in the Army, too, so."
"How old were you when you were done serving?" Tracci asked.
"Around 20 or so maybe."
"Yeah, and half of the people in the Army... half of them didn't make it," added Mirko. "Still when I go there and I go to graves, the goosebumps from being there and remembering those moments twenty, twenty-five years ago."
"Well Mirko, what would you say is the American Dream?"
"You know, just put it this way: over here, a lot of people don't know how lucky they are. It's just a great country. Great opportunities for everybody - doesn't matter if you're white, black, yellow, green, whatever. So you have to work, work, work. If I did it, you can do it too," Mirko said.