15 August, 2007

The Barbarians

Depending on your personal politics and life experience, the title could refer to either the terrorists or the Americans. I'll just share the following and leave you with your opinions.

A couple weeks ago, "mujahedeen" detonated an IED in an open-air market (typical military target, huh?), severely injuring a young boy, among many others. The Tank continues the story:

Today, the mother — a tired-looking woman dressed in an all black abaya and headscarf — pulled back the sheet to show me the severity of her son's wounds. He's healing now, but there are still open wounds, and his entire right leg is black (only because the skin is dead). One of the Army's medical corpsmen assured me he would heal. But the bones — currently held together with metal rods — need to fuse together. The boy will probably walk again: I pray he will. His mother — afraid he won't heal — asked for reassurance from our corpsman through our Iraqi interpreter.

None of us could understand what she was saying, but I knew exactly what she was trying to convey. She was crying, holding her fingers up to her quivering lips. Her eyes searching mine and others for the truth. The corpsman, trying to reassure her, was also tearing up. I had to walk outside so no one would see my own tears. I couldn't help it. Then two of the little girls came up to me and took my hand. They were looking up and me and smiling. This may all sound mawkishly sweet, but I don't care. This is what happened today. This is reality on the ground in an impoverished and dangerous area of Baghdad, where the "mujh" still operates....This is where Iraqi children live, try to play, and have been deliberately targeted by terrorists.

When we left the house, a captain told me that all the soldiers wept when they saw the torn and burned boy for the first time. Today, they were all smiles and playing around with the other children because they know the little boy is healing.

If you think the title refers to the Americans... I just gotta say, I've never heard of such soft-hearted "barbarians" before.