News and Photographs
VLC member Pat McDonald
Pat McDonald and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
More photographs below Pat's letter.
From: MAC In Iraq
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 11:22 AM
Subject: Today is November 11th in Baghdad
Today is November 11th here in Baghdad. On the 11th hour of the 11th Day
of the 11th Month the Embassy complex went silent in remembrance of all
those Veterans who have and are serving their country at home and
abroad. This newsletter will focus on the meaning of today rather than
the usual story of Iraq.
I have included a few pictures from around here to commemorate this day.
The pictures are of US Soldiers at work here in Iraq - all taken by me.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is visiting Iraq today. She just
completed a speech to those of us who work at the Embassy -you will
probably read about it in the paper tomorrow. Yes - we took a picture
The titles of the photographs are self explanatory - but I think most
notable are the paintings form the ceiling of a former Iraqi Defense
Ministry building extensively damaged in 2003. The ceiling mural shows
Saddam's forces over running US military forces and inflicting on them
instant death. The US forces run in fear as they are gunned down. It is
an ironic battle scene given the reality of what went on in February
Today is for the living, Memorial Day, on the other hand, is for those
who have donned the uniform of our nation's military and have gone to
their rest. People like my father, a WWII corpsman in the Pacific to 3rd
Marine Division who died in October 2003; or like SFC Lawrence Morrison
of Yakima, a friend and fellow Civil Affairs soldier, who was killed by
an explosive device outside of Ramadi in September. People like those
are whom we honor on Memorial Day. It is to the living that we give
Veteran's Day - but not entirely. We have this day because those who
have passed also sacrificed, each in their own way, to assure us and
future generations that this holiday will not be forgotten - not go
In the late 60's Congress took it upon themselves to diminish the role
of Veteran's Day and make it some kind of national "convenience" day -
just as they have done with Memorial Day. To that group it was more
important to not inconvenience business and government who had to "deal"
with a day off in the middle of the work week. Over 10 years later,
seeing the wrong they had wrought on our nation's veterans, the
tradition of November 11th was restored, unfortunately not that of
But November 11th stands for another milestone in world history. It is
the day that the "war to end all wars" came to a close. November 11,
1918 saw the end of World War I and the western hemisphere was remade
anew - but only for a short time. The lack of cultural and ethnic
understanding and the call for retribution against the defeated has left
us with a mixed legacy born of that event.
Those who made the decisions which shaped the post World War I landscape
also laid the seeds for even greater conflicts, instead of freeing the
world from the scourge of war. Timing is everything - and the mindset of
those in power at the time was not the spread of freedom and democracy,
but to set the stage so that large nations cannot wage war and small
nations could not be trampled.
What that meant was punishing Germany with impossible fines, creating
countries of divergent and sometimes warring ethnic and religious groups
(Yugoslavia) and carving out the Middle East in such a way as to ignore
tribal and religious/ethnic realities. To those people assembled in
Versailles in 1919 the Middle East was more colonization and less
democratization. Boundaries were drawn to keep the former the Ottoman
Empire (Turkey) in check and ensure no one country could have control of
the vast oil wealth being discovered in the region.
The analysis of this chain of events, affected over 85 years ago, was
not meant to diminish the role of "Remembrance Day" for those who were
part of that conflict - and generations of those who, in serving their
nation, fought in wars past and present. It was merely to put into focus
how a singular event - or better yet a chain of singular events, still
resonate to this very day.
Don't get me wrong, World War I was not a failure - but a decisive
victory, and the sacrifices made both on the warfront and home front are
incalculable - especially for the security and stability of our way of
life. Still, I wonder where we would be today if, while being a "Monday
morning quarterback," the Versailles accord would have gone in a
different direction and those who carved up the Middle East would have
done so in a different fashion. I wonder what this place would be like.
Still, it is for me not to live in the past -I would be guilty of living
a life of regrets if I did so. It is for us to honor bravery, sacrifice,
honor and duty. Those who fought WWI did not concern themselves with the
greater issues of the day - but were committed to the values that come
with military service. Regardless of what could have happened or should
have happened, we cannot turn our backs on the personal sacrifices that
made our nation and democracy, a force for good.
As I write this from the cubicled-off office I have in the ballroom of
Saddam's former Presidential Palace, I cannot help but remember those
newly minted veterans who are going to be remembered by their countrymen
for their sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan and, hopefully, by the Iraqi
and Afghani people for their willingness to be examples of bravery,
tenacity and genuine care.
The history of this mission will not be written for years to come. The
spin of success or failure is too early to write of at the moment. Those
who do so are doing a great disservice to those of us here and those on
the home front who are being fed the opinions of the media - which is in
most cases not the reality on the ground.
So as you commemorate this holiday - think of the living vet - the
handful left from World War I, those WWII vets who watch over 1,000 of
their comrades die each day, those from Korea and Vietnam who changed
the definition of modern warfare and built the foundation for the
military we have today, and all those other events, from Granada and
Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti and points in between who, at the failure of
compromise and accord, stepped into a lions den and came out adding to
the stories of heroism and sacrifice that continue to this day - to
define our military and - to a greater extent - our nation in general.
So to those new Veterans - many of whom are with me today in Iraq - and
all those before us - I give a heartfelt salute, a sincere thanks and
the hope that each of them will be remembered for that which makes our
country and its military strong - a willingness to sacrifice for the
spread of democracy and to proudly call ourselves Americans.
MNF-I CMO Elections
US Embassy - Iraq
APO AE 09316
The following photographs are in the order in which they were received.
Civil Affairs hands out toys
See my kids Baghdad
Kicking in the door
Marine Corps Birthday Cake 10 Nov
Secretary Rice Speech 11 Nov 05
Fallujah Marines on Marine Corps Birthday 10 Nov
3rd ID Tankers
US defeat 5
US Defeat Mural with 101st DIV Captain
US defeat 3
US defeat 2
1SG Holmes Prepping to move
CMO Elections Branch Aug 05
Marine Corps Birthday Ceremony 10 Nov
SPC Douglas helps child with cut foot
Relaxing before another convoy
Protection from on high
Eyes on target
Helo Vikings pilot
SGT Mooney awaits convoy ops
LZ Washington 10 Nov