It was a gloomy day in New York City's Central Park. Douglas Mackey, co-workers, and friends had been laboring since early in the rainy, windswept morning to set the thousands of placards into the ground. Each bore information, tediously and carefully gathered over the years, supplied by Iraq Body Count. Theexhibit moves on to Washington, D.C. next in its journey around the country.
Information? A name, a place, an age (so samy were so young), an occupation, a date of death...slender threads to the humanity needlessly lost in the fiasco of America's interjection into the lives of innocent Iraqis.
We huddled in the rain, met each other, and spoke of our personal reasons for being there to honor the dead of Iraq. Iraqis and Americans, gathered together for a brief homage. Peace workers all, surrounded by paper symbols of the carnage of war.
We were all were motivated by a strong sense that Americans have a deep responsibility to Iraqis, having unleashed one of the worst of modern disasters. Only the Iraqis seemed able to gather the sense of humor requisite to such an occasion; the humor needed to help one move on through the enormity of grief represented here.
Here's one of the letters we got, from a Baghdad medical student, in response to our request for comments at this 7 year mark:
My dear brothers and sisters, [SHE
Salaam from my Baghdad, the city of pain, hope, and magic tales... Well, what can I say?
These days we mark the 7th anniversary of the US-led invasion of my Iraq. That's right! Seven years full of so many crucial events that have managed to change a lot on so many levels...
First let me say that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was an absolutely fantastic thing, he was an evil dictator and a cruel criminal and thank God that he and his brutal regime aren't ruling our Iraq anymore... BUT
The so many mistakes committed by the American occupation authorities in my Iraq that have followed the over-throwing of Saddam Hussein were grave and totally inexcusable. And the consequences of those mistakes have had so many horrific ramifications that have managed to negatively affect every single aspect of day to-day life in my Iraq till the very moment that I am writing this message... Today you guys remember and pay your respects to every single innocent life that has been lost as a consequence of all of this continuing mess and madness, while we down here in my Iraq have never forgotten our loved ones whom we lost over the years.
And that's why every single day of the year, to us, is Iraq memorial day, because for us the agony and tragedy are continuous...
And yet we're sticking to hope and optimism because despite everything we do still believe in something better, yes, we do still have faith in our tomorrow, and one day this darkness that may seem now so eternal will go away and the sun will rise once again over my Mesopotamia, the birth-place of the very first civilization ever known to mankind... With my love... Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.
Once again we are in awe of the flame of hope that refuses to be extinguished in the hearts of Iraqis.