al Faw Palace at sunset ~ Baghdad, August 8, 2010
Photo above and quote below by Lt. Col. Ron Makela
At times this place is really bad: dirty, devastated, unbearably hot, unfriendly, etc. yet... I find what we are doing as really relevant and necessary. I tell Soldiers often to really look at all of the Iraqi people they see each time we are out in Baghdad, and remember that the extremely-vast majority of them just want better for their families ..that less than .01% are insurgent/terrorists acting against us. This doesn't mean that we let down our guard or be less vigilant in our efforts, but it does mean that we have to guard our thoughts and attitudes against becoming resentful toward the more than 99.99% of this population.
My nephew arrived in Iraq last month as part of the advisory and training operation replacing the formal U.S. combat mission (occurring officially on August 31). He will be there for a full year and heaven knows what that year will entail. I have this amazing family with members who love one another unconditionally. We cover the spectrum of political and religious views. Some of us have not seen one another for years, and some of us have yet to meet personally. But over that chasm of wide differences, around the corners of time and beyond the boundaries of space we wink and laugh about those things that separate us and always, always, always close space and time within the parentheses of love. Boundless love I send to you in Baghdad, Ron, and thank you for allowing me to share your beautiful image and splendid thoughts with Writerquake readers.
The last full U.S. combat brigade left Iraq two weeks early on August 18. A good account of it may be read here at Voice of America.