There has been some increased turmoil in Kirkuk lately, such that a sergeant once here with the departed Snake River group exclaimed to me in an email something to the effect of, “What the heck happened after we left???” The locals seem to be having a slight allergic reaction to the change of the guard here.
The last time the 101st came to Iraq, they came in battle-ready poise. I think they will need some adjusting to the more friendly demeanor needed for the rebuilding and “winning of the peace” mode, if you will. A demeanor that seemed more natural to the Idaho National Guardsmen that were here.
Then there is our congregation group leader. A Samoan, he greets us in a fashion similar to the Hawaiians at church, saying instead, “Ta-looooo-FA! We respond with the same. I see him around base and due to his rank he commands a lot of respect. But my respect comes from a different quarter…he works outside the wire shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi guard…
…my respect swelled for our great LDS compatriot when I heard about his visiting one of his wounded Iraqi Guardsmen at the hospital to see how he was doing and encourage him. The Iraqi, through an interpreter, reacted with astonishment and gratitude for the visit by this ranking American officer.
He has noted repeated expressions of gratitude from Iraqis often in the short time he has been here. In turn, this hearty Samoan encouraged the wounded Iraqi to maintain diligence in his own people‘s destiny, saying, “Your country needs you.” (since there is no contract for the Iraqi Guard, a soldier can join or quit at any time).
I think these are the small things that can and do make a great difference here, and anywhere. And this bond between mentors and learners of liberty that holds this place together. That’s where I think greatness lies. I will share more greatness soon.