Monday, April 4, 2011

The Universal Greeting

Everyday I see this young Iraqi man that works on base...

His eyes are older than he. They sink deep into his skull and warily observe all that surrounds him. They've seen too much, yet still...they long to see more.

He walks with a slow gait and a pronounced limp. A casualty of living in a country that's been at war for his entire life. With the Iranians. With the Americans. Most recently, with itself...

His limp and cold gaze seem normal in this wartorn, forgotten land...his everpresent smile does not.

I would write his name here, but its not important. Whats most important is that I've found out how powerful a smile is.

Lets call him Greg. Greg is a young Iraqi man who's lived here most of his life. He has a wife and a daughter who bring him "great joy". He risks his life to work for Americans. The people who once were considered the enemy in this country are now providing him with viable income.

Politics go out the window when it comes time to put food on the table...

Greg is doing the same thing that most of us who put on the uniform are doing. He is risking his life daily to make a better world for his daughter. He could be killed for working here and he knows it. Yet every day he wakes up before dawn to make his trek here to the base to work 12 hours cleaning buildings.

Relatively tall and rail thin, in a different life Greg would've been a model, a soccer player, or a business owner. This isn't a different life though. This is Iraq. This is Greg's home. He's a veteran of war without having ever chosen a side...and he has the scars to prove it.

Every day that I come from my living quarters to our work area I see Greg. We lock eyes and have a mini staredown. Greg then performs some sort of funny action that makes me laugh, or I'll catch him off guard and make him laugh. None the less, Greg opens our day with a smile.

If you watch the news, you'd be lead to believe that Iraq is not as relevant as it once was. That the danger has subsided. To a certain degree, that is true. The Iraqi Police are well trained and professional. The Iraqi Armed Forces are growing by leaps and bounds.

However for the people who's land we currently inhabit...the danger is distinct and pronounced. Government officials live in fear of sticky bombs placed under their cars. Young patriots who simply want to serve their country are in constant danger of being killed for their service. Young Iraqis who simply want to feed their families even if it means working for the Americans go to great lengths to ensure that their occupation is kept secret.

In constant fear of death...Greg can still smile...and sometimes that's all you need to remind you that you're still human...

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive

About Me

Beneath the Underdog
I'm a black music aficionado with a lot of opinions...nothing more, nothing less...