Thursday, June 02, 2005

Some Treasures are Lost Forever

In Baghdad while on a patrol just a few weeks after securing the airport (during my first deployment here) we chanced upon the War College. That was where many of Saddam's officers had been trained. As we pulled up in our Humvee looters scrambled away in fear and we were greeted by three retired Iraqi military officers all of which were livid. ALL of the artwork, statues, marble flooring, carpets, and everything of any value at all had been stolen.

So many years worth of Iraqi heritage and culture gone. We told them (the 3 Iraqis) that we would inform our commanders that this place should have been guarded. As you may have guessed neither us or our commanders could have done anything about what had happened. There just weren't enough soldiers to keep peace, stabilization, and secure the borders from foreign fighters let alone try and guard the important places housing valuable Iraqi artifacts from being stolen and lost possibly forever.

How angry would America be if our history and culture were desecrated and looted, if our capital was ransacked by thieves all because of poor planning about the war? Maybe we are doing the right thing now by trying to rebuild, but to have lost so much...

Can they forgive us for their looted national treasures? What about for all of their dead children? Can we make things right? How can you compensate a human life? How can you compensate thousands of them?

Don't ask me, I don't have those answers...


Anonymous said...

RIGHT ON ZACK!!!! its linda, hope you're having a good day.

Anonymous said...

Since I haven't been to Iraq, who were the looters of the National Treasures? Were they Iraqi or were they non Iraqi? There isn't any way to compensate for the loss of life. All we can do is to stop the people that are taking it by unlawfull means by what ever means possible, be they terrorists or dictators.

Kristen said...

Hey Zach,
I know you hear this all the time, but I wanted to let you know that I think your blog is so insightful and well written. I think it's great how you let the civilian sector know what really goes on when the media isn't shooting sugar coated footage of some higher authority visiting one of the safer bases. Unless you have been where you are, or are close to someone who has, you have no idea what y'all really go through out there everyday. No breaks. No weekends or holidays. Promis me you won't stop writing no matter who finds out about it. And you know who I'm talking about.
As for your posting a while ago about the docs telling you that you didn't have PTSD because you hadn't attacked someone, they are the same docs who sent Rob back to Iraq with a shoulder sling, a foot cast and a crutch with the "possibility" of broken bones, if that tells you anything( by the way, check my blog to see a pic of him). Saying that you couldn't have PTSD because you never acted violently towards someone afterwards is like saying that a woman who becomes severely depressed after childbirth couldn't have Postpartum depression because she hasn't tried to kill her baby. I know things aren't half as bad as they were the first time you were over there, but if you ever feel like that again after you come back this time, don't hesitate to seek help. But I know that Tara is a great outlet and getting all those bottled up emotions and horrifc war stories out to the public in your blog is probably great therapy. Like I said, don't ever stop. We all love you and we pray you come home soon. Enjoy your family next month for R&R. By the way, Rob DID have me walking funny by the time he left. :)

Anonymous said...

The only thing I can say is that it is unlikely people looted these treasures just to destroy them--likely it is the work of poor individuals who are looking to perhaps make money off of them--or maybe even by some looking to save them from damage. In any event, some of these treaures are probably going to be lost, perhaps forever, but I would venture a guess that as the country stabalizes over the next 50 years or so, most of these will surface somewhere, and if they aren't in the hands of Iraqi authorities, they'll be somewhere out there, on some shelf or display case.

I have a question for you. Do you think that, if we indeed are able to within the next 10 years or so make Iraq a safe, livable place similar to the US as far as freedoms are concerned, do you think that the Iraqi citizens would find it worth it? Do they seem to want freedom enough to sacrifice these treasures? Or are their lives (and were they) not as bad as our government would make them out to be?

And not to sound crass, but the loss of lives in this world seems to be forgotten relatively quickly (unfortunately). I would be willing to bet that the monetary losses of the country will be viewed as a bigger problem then the loss of life, though individual people may not see it as such. That seems to be the nature of society in general.


Brandy Smith said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog. You write so well and share your thought and feelings in such a compelling way. Keep it up.

Rufus said...

You don't have the answers, but you're much wiser than I am for asking the questions. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I really enjoyed reading about your experiences but I wonder.....I have been told by others that soldiers aren't allowed to talk about their experiences while still in the military and you can be court marshalled. Is that not true?
Hopefully not. I find your writing interesting, heartbreaking, and thoughtful.