No, this isn’t the “Mother of All Blogs” that I promised last week. It’s just something I wanted to share with you, specifically a pic I saw on The Chive and what it means to me. As you’ve no doubt heard, the Iraq was is officially over now, with the drawdown of troops wrapping up as the last units trickled out yesterday. Many of our military personnel did not return. Almost 4500 of our service men and women lost their lives in that conflict and I don’t even want to think about how many have been terribly injured, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. God bless ’em, every one.
But that’s not the discussion I want to have right now. I want to talk about hope. Specifically, Iraqi hope. And it’s all summed up in this picture of a young woman soldier with the 25th Army Infantry division…
There are tons of great pics of American and British soldiers doing wonderful things like teaching Iraqi children how to play baseball, giving piggyback rides and so on. It’s one of the great legacies of the American Soldier. Their kindness and compassion is legendary. The gratefulness of the liberated peoples doesn’t always get the press it deserves, but the kids…my God, the kids love the American grunt. Ever since WWII, the world knows that the GI’s have good candy and an abundance of smiles. Sure, there have been exceptions. A few bad apples sully the good works that 99% of our men and women carry out above and beyond the great call of duty. But for the most part, you simply have to look at the face of those kids to know how much they adore their liberators.
This photo in particular says something even more about the legacy of the American Soldier. One can’t help but notice that the soldier in this shot is female. A blonde, smiling female. It appears that the children surrounding her are also female. Little girls. Little girls who have lived in a part of the world where they have traditionally been relegated to second-class citizens based solely on the fact that they were born without a penis. No votes, no property, at the whim of religious and political systems designed to keep the Man firmly entrenched in a position of absolute power. And here they are, looking up to a fully-empowered, ass-kicking, FEMALE member of the United States Army. This woman can vote, drive a car, use birth control, and disagree publicly with her husband. If she even HAS a husband. This American soldier is single-handedly changing the way these little girls view themselves and their world. Regimes may come to pass wherein conservative religious views try and relegate women to the scrapheap. Iraq may end up being more like Iran than we want to admit. But the seed has been planted. What has been experienced will not be forgotten. The image of a woman fighting and building alongside her male counterparts will be indelibly etched into the memories of these kids and the thousands around the country that have witnessed similar scenarios. And perhaps just as importantly, the young men that have been in the presence of female soldiers and airmen might just see women in a different light. Seeing a woman in uniform being saluted by men is no doubt a powerful image for them, no matter how alien it may have at seemed in their past.
Come what may, these kids have experienced two things, at least for a little while, that will shape who they become as adults. They have tasted freedom, and they have seen how easy it is for men and women to serve together in some of the most stressful scenarios possible. It will be a long, trying road for Iraq. But if the children remember what is possible, they might just realize that nothing is IMpossible. The world certainly hopes so. God bless the American Soldier, and God Bless the people of Iraq. May they continue to find their way.