Diary of a Woman's Misadventures in Iraq

The Serious Excerpt

MARCH 20, 2005

I thought we weren’t going out today, but as usual, we got called to do something at the last minute. We’re going to visit the mayor’s office, which means we’ll see the demon spawn again. Today I thought I’d bring a little surprise for him. I figure if he gets out of hand, my super turbo-charged battery operated squirt machine gun will be ready and loaded with a fully stocked supply of ammunition, water bottles. Let’s see how the little s#$% likes that. I say this with much love and affection because I love “problem children” and this one takes the cake. Plus, he annoys the hell out of School Boy, bonus!

Speaking of School Boy, I gave him a little taste of his own medicine. He kept yelling my name while I was asleep this morning, so while he was “resting his eyes” I grabbed a few of his Nerf toys and proceeded to volley them right into his side. He was so tired when he retaliated that he couldn’t hit me.

We got all geared up and ready to make our trip, only to wait for more than an hour before the trip was cancelled. No one was sure why, but then word came that someone was killed in an IED (improvised explosive device) exploded and the commander had to deal with that instead. Two incidents were called in over the radio. The first one reported that no one was hurt, but a vehicle was down. The other one, which I didn’t hear, reported that someone was killed.

The soldier was from here, so the Internet and phones were down. Luckily, I have friends now with resources. I wandered next door to the ODA (operation detachment alpha, aka special forces) Bunker to check e-mail. Theirs is always up.

All American was complaining that they have to be here for seven-month deployments now rather than four months. I looked around the room at the nice living conditions: American television, Internet, and a refrigerator full of beer; not to mention, two soldiers in inhabiting an entire building. In comparison, we have five people in one room. He caught on to my expression and said, “Well, I guess compared to you guys we have it pretty good.” Mmmm hmmm, got that right!

I had my late night smoke and started pondering the most recent of deaths, a soldier on his way back from leave. F@#$, that sucks! School Boy pointed out that at least he got to see his family. I bet they’re saying, “but we just saw him!”

I admit I do get complacent. Times like today remind me that people do want to kill me. I heard a quote somewhere, “One person dies and it’s a tragedy; hundreds die and it’s a statistic.” It’s true, on the news, all I see are numbers. What happened to “so and so, a soldier from someplace, died today while serving his country. Our hearts go out to his friends and family. If you would like to support the family in any way, please contact so and so.” Not “The deaths in Iraq total more than 1,000.”

The year before I came here, one of the things I did was look up each person who died. I started out doing it as research to learn how soldiers died and what possibly could have been done better. I looked at each face and each name and I read about each one. At that time, it was just more than 300. It was heart wrenching, especially reading about the young ones. It was even more painful to hear that a lot of the deaths were from accidents. I started out with a research mission and ended up learning about each person. I think more people should read about the soldiers who die. People get so wrapped up in their lives. I was one of those people. It’s easier said than done. And you can’t dwell on it … that’s not exactly “living” either, is it?

I get angry when people don’t support the war effort. I understand people have a right to their opinions, but the typical anti-war person nowadays claims “I do support the troops!”

How can you? By telling them that they die for nothing? By demoralizing them and forcing them to think they are wasting their lives here? The time to voice opinions is before the final decision, not after.

We’re here and it’s not changing, no matter how many celebrities complain. Plus, how do they know what’s going on? From the news? The media rarely leaves Baghdad. I’ve moved several times and only saw a reporter once. I see the people. I see the kids. They live in fear because bad guys come threaten them at their place of work. Sure, not everyone likes us, but most are just trying to get by. It’s not so different from everywhere else. They just want to provide for their families.

It’s a lot different than what I read about. I expected to see people praying six times a day, expected them to hate us and think we’re infidels. First of all, most of the people don’t pray six times a day. I drive through downtown in the middle of prayer and there are hundreds of people walking around. In Samarra, I did see a few people do it, but for the most part, people don’t. Even during Ramadan, I watched people eat and drink during the day. What does that mean to me? Well, just like Americans, they can slack off in their religion. It doesn’t mean they love Allah less; they are just normal human beings. And they don’t all think we’re infidels. On the contrary, they watch American movies and listen to American music. Wouldn’t they be going straight to hell if they really thought we were infidels?

Sometimes I think I’m fighting more for the Iraqis rather than America. I guess I’m okay with that. I have been a little sister to Iraqi men, a daughter to Iraqi women, a role model to little girls, and a future wife to the little boys (at least that’s what they think!). I don’t have a problem fighting for them. I’m not saying there aren’t some rotten apples, hell, we are still here right? But they’re an exception to the majority, and majority rules here too.

I have seen amazing acts of kindness from the poorest of people, whether they offer their last chicken or slaughter a cow to feed us, or help us dig out a Humvee that’s stuck in the mud. They’ve done all this before ever knowing what we’re about. The ones who do have the opportunity to get to know us better go to even greater lengths with gifts and gestures. So yeah, it’s easy to say “they’re not our people; we’re wasting American lives!” Yeah, it’s pretty easy when you’re not here to see in person one Iraqi child’s face, one woman’s smile, or one man’s gratitude.

I know one thing for sure. I have to make it out of here safely, if for nothing else than to spread this message. I want people to know it’s not for nothing. The soldier who died today, died so that hundreds of Iraqi kids have a future free from gun battles in their damn front yard. It might take a long time, but everything worthwhile takes time. I want all the families who lost someone, mine included if I don’t make it out of here, to know that it was not for nothing!