Friday, September 01, 2006

100 feet over Baghdad

I flew into Baghdad yesterday. We came in to town to bring some soldiers around to see some of the green zone. It was early in the morning so I was a little tired as we left. I started to doze off some when I was shaken awake by the sound of flared being fired off of the chopper. I looked out and saw that we were over Baghdad. Many of the buildings were either destroyed or seriously damages. With very few exceptions all the buildings were tan in color. I don't know if they were designed that way or if it was from a lot of dust. Either one would not have surprised me. Overall I was surprised how rundown the city looked.
Anyway we landed in Baghdad and went around and visited some of the Iraqi monuments in the area. Our first stop was the hands of victory and the famous review stand where we see Saddam review his troops and shoot off his AK. The parade stand had been looted and vandalized. Many windows had been broken and graffiti had been sprayed all over. Looks like it once was a nice place. I was impressed by the unique architecture.
We then went to see the hands of victory. Our tour guide told us it was made from items taken from the Iran-Iraq war. He said that swords were forged from the weapons of fallen Iraqi soldiers,and the base of the monument is covered with the helmets of fallen Iranian soldiers. The speed bumps on the road were also made from Iranian helmets. The monument bothered me. I can't imagine how anyone could make a national tribute out of captured war trophies.
From there we went to the tomb of the unknown soldier. It was made in the shape of a falling Iraqi soldiers shield. Under the shield there was a model representing the 7 layers of heaven. Under the monument there was a museum which was empty except for cases where something should be.
Finally we went to eat lunch in one of Saddam's palaces. We ate and looked around the palace. It was the first palace I have ever been in, really nice. We finished up with a swim in Saddam's pool.
We flew out that night and I got another glimpse of Baghdad from 100 feet. I noticed that there is a huge difference between Saddam's part of Baghdad and the part I flew over. I guess many cities are like that, but this disparity seemed so extreme. I realize that there should be something important to say here but I'm all out of things to say.


Blogger Judy Schletty said...

Hi Todd, I liked your most recent blog about traveling to downtown Baghdad. I had similar feelings. Toured Mayo Clinic while my former husband was waiting for all his appointments. Wished I had been there under different circumstances. Your description of Baghdad made us feel like we were there. So much like the pictures we've seen on the news.
Randy and I have flown out to the State Fair several times. Saw Hank Thompson who is considered "The King of Western Swing." Randy even has some of his music. Hank's just shy of 81 yrs. and we all even sang happy birthday to him. Came out on stage in a walker because he had had a hip replacement 3 weeks ago. I liked music from Ecuador and a young guy whose cute personality, humor, and pantomine were just as good as his juggling act. Last Sunday we attended two church services at the Fair. The last name of the minister who gave the sermon at the
Crossroad's Chapel was Benedict. He had served as two elected officials, including the mayor of Bloomington. Told us a story about helping a woman in Nigeria and her strong faith in the midst of seemingly insurmountable difficulties. That will leave a lasting impression.
The Fair wouldn't be the Fair though without sampling a little of all the good food and we
especially enjoy the special service and food we get at the church dining halls.
When you get home, I bet your son will like going to the State Fair. I remember my dad would only take us on a few rides. Said he'd take us on more rides at Como Park instead. Now Cousin Jeanne, Jim's daughter, emailed me and is saying just about the same thing. Thinking of excuses to tell her children because it's so expensive.
Randy got a Midway-type ride at no extra charge Wed. night. The MTC bus driver got Randy stuck on the handicapped lift. The lift was wedged in the curb and the lift got locked. Wouldn't go up or down. So Randy had to wait an hour on the lift for MTC mechanics to arrive. What a ride. A mechanic had to drive the bus with Randy on the lift, just hanging onto the bars alongside, until they could get him to level ground.
We were suppose to go visit your mother tomorrow, but now the weather isn't suppose to be good, so don't know whether we'll be able to go up there. Labor Day weekend always presents other problems, too, with everybody taking their last fling for the summer and highways jammed.
Thanks again for your blogs. Hope you are keeping up your running and guitar playing. Take care. God bless.
Uncle Randy and Judy

2:14 AM  
Blogger KT said...

How's your guitar playing coming? Mine's okay...Hoping to get an electric guitar soon! It'll probably be a while though, as I have to pay off a debt to my parents for New York, and then save up again to buy one. There's no way my mom would ever buy me one. I guess I'll just have to stick with the acoustic for a while. It's better than my friend, who doesn't even have any drums to work with (we both want to start a band) at least she's convinced her parents, they'll probably help her buy it, but that will be a while too. We're both hoping by the end of the school year...That still leaves finding someone to play bass and possibly keyboard. Small towns suck...There would be so much more opportunity for things like this if we were in a big city.
Anyhow, I'm babbling...saw Conner I think it was a week or so ago, when we stayed with Anne and my parents went to the State Fair. Well, with everyone exclaiming how much he looks like you, I was trying to see it (I'm not good at seeing people in other people..ok that sounded weird) Then he all of the sudden did this eyebrow thing, and Presto! I swear a blind man would've seen it...Anyhow, he's just hilarious feeding himself, and we had a good time.
Well, I hope all goes well with you.
P.S. Do you have a way to watch a video tape over there?

12:59 PM  
Blogger Chaplain Luken said...

I can't wait to go the the state fair again. I was thinking I should take my leave to coincide with the state fair but instead we opted for our anniversary.

my guitar playing is coming along. I go in short growth times where I learn a bunch and then practice that. I can play a few songs atm, I am trying to learn more chords so I can play more songs.
Never saw myself as a band guy, although it is more fun to play with other people. There are a few guys here learning how to play so it is fun to play with them.
Seeing people in other people? that does sound wierd. I guess he does look like me especially if you look at my baby pictures.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Roland said...

You said everything without doing it directly.

6:50 AM  

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