Thursday, August 19, 2004

Memory I remember....I was watching the news and it mentioned that today is the 1-year anniversary of the "first" bombing of the UN headquarters here. (I say "first" because the UN headquarters had been attacked with mortars and/or RPGs at least once a year since it set up in the Canal Hotel in 1996, this was just the first big one after the fall of Saddam's regime and the first one to kill "important" people.)

Last year, almost exactly (it's maybe a year and an hour right now), Karen and I were sitting in one of the weekly "education" meetings at the HACC-B (Humanitarian Activities Coordination Center in Baghdad) when a friend of ours from JEN (Japanese Emergency NGOs - another NGO that frequented that meeting, and with whom we'd become friends) received a phone call from a co-worker. She left to take the call and came back looking rather ashen as she related to us what her co-worker was telling her. He'd been in the internet cafe inside the building, but close to the door when "the roof began caving in." He ran outside and was unhurt, but many other people could not say the same. Karen was especially disturbed by this as she knew several of the people killed, and as she'd been in that same internet cafe for an hour just that morning. I have friends among those who helped with the clean-up, then who continued to guard the building even though it was empty.

Lacie and I flew out the next day. She was returning to Egypt prior to her return to America, and I was being forced to take some R&R time. The plane was full, and many of the people were bandaged. When we arrived in Amman, we were escorted to a special area where they were receiving people for counseling and further medical treatment. We had to talk our way out of being included in on that.

So much has changed since that day. At that time, we were driving around the city with little fear. Granted, we tried not to drive over debris in the roads as that was a well-known tactic for disguising IEDs (improvised explosive devices, i.e., home-made bombs - which is one quirk that I'll probably never quite get past)...but we went pretty much where ever we wanted without (much) trepidation (especially on my part - I still have yet to be afraid here, disconcerted at times, but never afraid, but I'm not just talking about myself in this case). Now that the bombings are far less frequent, the nightly gun battles are a thing of the past, the destroyed buildings are being cleaned up, the stores are almost all open again, schools are running again, the power is back to better than pre-war we're not allowed to go outside of our neighborhood and a few other areas (mainly those which house the stores many of our people like to frequent) without special permission and a large amount of consultation.

It's so sad when we allow the terrorists to win by giving in to their fear tactics. Especially given that we're supposed to be showing that we're different from the others. That, because we put our faith in Him, we have no need to be afraid.

But what can you do?

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