Christmas In Iraq: What a Difference A Year Makes
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    Exclamation Christmas In Iraq: What a Difference A Year Makes

    Christmas In Iraq: What a Difference A Year Makes

    This time last year, I was spending Christmas in Iraq with the troops (courtesy of Prudent Publishing, parent company of The Gallery Collection), and with a wonderful Iraqi family who cooked a wonderful Christmas feast for our troops on a cold Christmas Eve.

    This was last year:

    This is this year:

    Santa Claus interacts with boys and girls that participate in the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides clubs on Forward Operating Base Liberty, Iraq, Dec. 20, 2008. U.S. servicemembers, who volunteer to help teach the children team-building skills during their weekly meetings, handed out gifts to celebrate the holiday season.
    U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joshua Powell

    Adding icing to the cake is having the Iraqi government make Christmas an official holiday and reading good stories on how Iraqi Christians went to Church on Christmas without fear -- despite the lack of American security, for that is now the provenance of Iraqi security forces almost everywhere.

    A wise man told me about this time last year, that a week was eternity in Iraq. Not in the sense that it seemed like eternity, but rather that what was true a week ago was no longer true today. The cascade of positive change was amazing, as witnessed by my walk through Doura, a thing I would not have thought possible even the fall before.

    My Christmas dinner in Iraq is for now the most memorable Christmas dinner of my life. It was a feast, and one I enjoyed very much on many different levels. As I said last year:

    There are indeed those who support the troops. They just are not necessarily Americans.

    No, my feast this year was not as extensive, but enjoying it as I did with friends and in peace was made possible by troops who didn't spend Christmas with their family and friends, and by Iraqis and others who were and are part of the change and Awakening. To those I spent last year with, and to those who are there today, my thanks.

    I also want to take a moment and thank "Doc" and a couple of others who made it possible for me to continue my embed last year. I had been trying to keep from coming down with something since before I left the States, and it hit hard early Christmas morning. "Doc" checked me out, dosed me up, and let me go on my way. To a senior NCO and another who checked on me Christmas Day (not sure who all did, as I really don't remember the day much at all) and accepted my assurances that I was okay, my thanks.

    It is indeed amazing the difference a week, or a year, can make. To see the changes, even if at a distance this year, is one of the most wonderful gifts of all. Please take a moment to savor that gift, and appreciate it. Then thank the people, the troops and the Iraqis, who made it possible for you to enjoy it.

    Merry Christmas, my friends.


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