06 January, 2008

Heroes of Iraq

As often happens, the headline isn't everything: Suicide attack on Iraqi crowd kills 11.

But here's the real story:

BAGHDAD - Two Iraqi soldiers threw themselves on a suicide bomber who slipped into a crowd celebrating Iraq's Army Day, but the attacker detonated an explosives vest, killing both soldiers and nine other people, the U.S. military and police said.

....About two dozen soldiers were in the street celebrating at an Army Day event hosted by a local non-governmental agency pushing for unity in Iraq.

Sadly they were too late, but two people covering a suicide bomber with their bodies is an heroic act that surely has an impact on the blast radius and thus the amount damage done to innocent bystanders.

Accompanying the story is an amazing series of photos by photographers who observed both the celebration and the bombing aftermath. Here's a sample:

    An Iraqi Army soldier gets a kiss from a civilian moments before the civilian was killed in a suicide attack on a celebration marking Army Day in the Karradah neighborhood of central Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008. [Photo by Hadi Mizban]

    A resident puts flowers in the barrel of an Iraqi soldier's rifle, while two other soldiers look on, during Iraqi Army Day celebrations in Baghdad January 6, 2008. Moments later all four were killed by a bomb blast, witnessed by a Reuters photographer [photo by Mohammed Ameen. Note: the link is to a detailed Reuters article that doesn't even mention the two Iraqi soldiers who tackled the bomber]
Did you notice the second paragraph of the quote that opened this post? Remember: it's the U.S. occupation they're fighting, not Iraqi freedom and peace itself.


P.S. Clicking on the pictures at the first link above leads to a sidebar link of a series of heartrending pictures about the bombing, but interspersed throughout are pictures of celebrations around Iraq. It seems the Iraqi army took the opportunity of Army Day celebrations to demonstrate some of the skills they've been learning, and the pride and joy they seem to take in their service is very encouraging. Iraq has such a long way to go, but it seems there is hope springing up everywhere these days.