Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Memorial Day in Baghdad is not like it is in the States.  Okay, so we got a full day off.  Our little group was sitting around dinner in the DFAC last night discussing what our options were.  Go to the beach?  Nah - the drive down to Basrah is too long.  To the mall?  No, that's out ... too many teenyboppers.  Ball games, car races, and casinos were all ruled out for various nitnoid reasons.

Instead it was supposed to be a day of doing pretty much nothing.  A rarity, here.  We work six and a half days a week, so having a full day off is a bit jarring.  I tried to sleep late but woke up at my regular time, anyway.  After chatting with Janis on Skype, I crawled back in the pit for an extra glorious hour.  Breakfast was a fresh-brewed cappuccino from the Green Bean and a newly-nuked Cinnabon that I picked up from Camp Liberty yesterday.  Ahh, bliss.  

Several of us went over to Union 3 later in the morning.  The stated reason was to drop off a work package.  The real reason was just to get off our compound.  We browsed the little shops for the umpteenth time and, for the umpteenth time, looked at exactly the same tacky little items.  No matter.  We weren't at work.

When we got back I made the mistake of wandering over to my desk just to check email.  Two hours later, I finished up a couple of "I NEED THIS TODAY!!!!" taskers.  So much for a full day off.

This evening we had a Memorial Day ceremony.  It was short and sweet.  But there's something about a Memorial Day ceremony that honors those who have gone before us, when we're still in a war zone.  "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes takes on a new connotation when two Blackhawk helicopters fly overhead.  "Those who have gone before us" aren't just overseas or far away, they're here, right here.  They're 200 feet overhead, or manning the gate 50 yards away, or standing right next to you.  

This past week, we had some stark reminders that we're still in a war zone.  It's pretty easy to forget that at times.  Baghdad has been fairly quiet for almost a year, but during the last couple of months, there has been a marked uptick in bombings and attacks.  Most of it has been targeted against Iraqis, but just the other day, two of our brethren here in the International Zone were killed.  It's something that you have to be aware of all the time.

But now it's evening.  I've got the TV on for only the third time since I arrived here.  It's tuned to the Indianapolis 500.  I'm gonna get to watch a race!  And then hit the rack.  Back to work tomorrow morning.

1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 05/27/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.