Wednesday, February 04, 2004


February 5, 2004

Life in Baghdad is different to say the least. I think it’s obvious from my emails that I am enjoying it here because I am learning and seeing so much – about another culture and about myself. But this is a war and there are things I withhold because I don’t want you to worry. I saw something a few days ago and it’s been on my mind ever since. So it’s time to share.

Three weeks ago a suicide bomber took it upon himself to end the lives of almost thirty people when he detonated a bomb he put in his truck. In the back of that truck was a handful of Iraqis under the impression they were going to work at the Palace. Little did they know they would soon die. I saw the pictures from that bombing the other day. Not the ones seen on the evening news or in the morning paper but the ones that show the horrendous result of a selfish man. I’ve worked in news long enough to see some pretty awful things – car wrecks, house fires, etc. But I’ve never seen anything like this. These people didn’t have a chance. Their skin was literally hanging off their bodies and I could see their bones. It took my breath away.

I don’t generally react that way to gruesome images but this got to me because it’s my reality. That bomb exploded right next to the place I sleep. In fact, the explosion woke me up that morning. I don’t know about everyone else over here but I always wonder why I am not the person who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are strange realities to being in a war zone. Anyone who reads this and has been in one will understand. Every night as I lay in my bed I hear gunfire and I wonder who is on the receiving end of those shots. I hear jets and helicopters overhead. I hear explosions. SGT Campsey and I just look at each other with wide eyes and continue on without saying a word. But I’m thinking and I know she must be – “What is going on out there?” We’ve gotten used to hearing it and, admittedly, we’ve become complacent. I don’t feel threatened on a daily basis. In fact, sometimes I have to be reminded where I am. Those pictures did a good job of reminding me.

I have a confession to make. I was on the shuttle one day last week and an Iraqi man got on the bus as well. He sat in a seat toward the front, all alone, and was nervously looking around. I noticed he was clinching his jaw a lot and he seemed preoccupied. I couldn’t help but think “please don’t blow this bus up – please let me get back to the Palace in one piece.” I was feeling very guilty for thinking like that but those were truly my thoughts. Obviously I got home just fine and he was just a hardworking guy anxious to call it a day.

I could go on with more examples but I think you get the idea. This is a truly unique and awesome experience. What I am going through now is nothing compared to the actual fighting during the war – an experience thousands have had before me. But people are dying around me every day and I can’t ignore that. I just finished reading letters from troops to their families in Esquire magazine. When those men and women wrote those letters I’m sure they didn’t anticipate it was their last. But I bet they knew it could be. After all, that’s our reality.

Missing you all,


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