On our last full day in Iraq we are going to a Military parade. Security is tight because there have been word of threats closer to us, we travel with all the curtains drawn on the buses today.
Upon arriving at the military training base, each mother is greeted by Kurdish defense minister, Sheikh Jafar Mustafa. We are ushered into a conference room to receive an official greeting by the Sheikh and to watch another film on Halabajah. These people do not want the world to forget what happened to them. This one was harder to watch than the first and even though the room was filled with men, the sniffles started almost immediately. I was sitting in the back of the room with the Iraqi press when this guy leaned over and said "Who are you all" In a very American accent. Then I realized there were several Americans in the room.
After the film, Gold Star mom Jan Moncur spoke about her son, PFC Philip M. Christensen. She talked about how he loved serving his country and how much he wanted to help the Iraqi people gain their freedom. Once the speeches were over, we were taken by bus to a field where the Kurdish peshmerga army put on quite a show. Running an obstacle course with fire and real bullets,thankfully shot into the ground, and then an official parade. By the way peshmerga means "those who face death."
After the parade we were treated to a huge lunch, including tea, fruit and smoking of course, back in the mess hall. Several American soldiers came over and talked with the moms. When these women find a soldier, he better watch out. They truly love them and it is such a treat to get to meet one. Especially when they found out one of these guys was a Citadel grad and had lived in Charleston.
While the moms were talking to the American soldiers one of the peshmerga came over to me to tell me that they would not let anything happen to them. He said in very broken English, that he would personally take a bullet to protect his American friends. I believe he would.
This has been a fun day and I think the moms really enjoyed being with the military.
Because of the extra security and having to keep the curtains drawn I missed one of the best shots of the trip. (the back window of the vans don't have a curtain so we could see what we were passing) There were two little Iraqi boys standing on a hill as we passed, they were jumping up and down like crazy, completely naked and holding tight to there little boy parts. Everyone was laughing... except me. :)