A woman mourns inside the Beslan school gymnasium September 1, 2009. One thousand children and parents were taken hostage by Chechen separatists on the first day of the new school year on September 1, 2004. After three days of siege, Russian forces stormed the school and some of the rebels blew themselves up. A total of 333 hostages - more than half of them children - were killed in the chaos and hundreds were wounded.
Tuesday would have been Georgy Daurov's very first day of school. His mother, Svetlana, scoffed at the idea that the passage of time could ease the sorrow of losing her 2-year-old son five years ago in Russia's worst terrorist attack.
"Time heals all wounds - the person who thought that up never had anyone die, never mind a young son," she said, tears streaming down her face. "We live with this every day of our lives."
The ragged wails of mothers, fathers, grandparents and neighbors echoed again out the jagged roof and broken windows of Beslan's School No. 1 on Tuesday. What is the first day of school for millions of children around Russia will forever be a day of unspeakable grief in this small town in the turbulent North Caucasus.
Thirty-two heavily armed militants seized the school on September 1, 2004, herding more than 1,000 men, women and children into the gymnasium - including parents and younger siblings who had accompanied the school-age boys and girls.
The militants - from Chechnya and elsewhere - demanded that Russian forces withdraw from the war-wracked republic.
The hostages were packed in for nearly three days, thirsty, hungry and terrified until the afternoon of September 3, when mayhem and gunfire broke out after explosions tore through the gym, and images of bloodied, mostly naked children fleeing the crossfire shocked the world. In all, 334 people died - more than half of them children.