Saturday, December 16, 2006

Out and About in the IZ

The other day I had some free time, and went down to the CSH (Combat Support Hospital) to help a friend distribute some cards sent by an elementary school in Ferguson Falls, MN, and to touch base about how to distribute the care packages that will soon be arriving. (See my previous posts about this below).

It was the first time I’d been back to the CSH since my friend Shane's death back in May. It was very difficult, to say the least, to walk up the stairs to the second floor, and up the small ramp to ICU #1 where Shane was treated. There was one soldier there in a condition that didn’t allow for visitors, which spared me having to relive some of the memories of that day and what followed.

However, other than that one wounded soldier, there were no other American patients in the hospital. In each department we visited, the hospital staff was almost apologetic for how quiet things were and knocked on the closest piece of wood they could find. (The only patient other than the wounded soldier was a young Iraqi girl wounded by a car bomb two-and-a-half months ago. We could hear her moaning in pain from around the corner of ICU #2).

If there is one thing I've definitely been remiss about with regards to this blog, it is that I have not included nearly enough original photos of Iraq. Whether due to lap top crashes, or simply not wanting to look like a tourist whetravelingng alongside the Ambassador or a General, I haven't taken as many photographs as I'd like. I'm therefore resolved to try to include more photography on this site in my remaining three months here.

So, in addition to visiting the CSH, I also had enough time to go and take some long overdue "tourist" pictures of the "Crossed Swords" monument, Saddam's macabre tribute to his "victory" in the Iran-Iraq War.

A long view of the 40-ft tall swords on either end of Saddam's parade ground.

The helmets at the base of the statue and at the entrance to the parade ground (next to the concertina wire) are the helmets of killed Iranian soldiers. It was Saddam's idea to have his forces march over the heads of his vanquished enemies.

The hands and forearms at the base of the statue are supposedly modeled on Saddam's arms. (And yes, that small speck at the base is me).

The Tomb of the Unknowns (also from the Iran-Iraq War), as seen from a distance.