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January 17, 2005

". . . we're doing a bang-up job"

Here's a first-hand look at what's going right in Iraq from Marine Corporal Isaac D. Pacheco, currently deployed in Baghdad. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on September 12, 2001.

Something struck me as odd this fall as I watched a U.S. satellite news broadcast here in my Baghdad office. Something just didn't seem right. There was the usual tug-of-war between presidential candidates, a story about the Boston Red Sox and a blurb about another explosion in Iraq. The latter story showed the expected images of smoke and debris and people frantically running for cover - images that have become the accepted norm in the minds of many Americans thanks, or should I say no thanks, to the media.

There were no smiling soldiers, no mention of rebuilding efforts, no heartwarming stories about honor and sacrifice. I could swear I've seen that "stuff" here.

I've become somewhat callused to this kind of seesaw reporting because every day I work with the news agencies that manufacture it. However, many service members shake their heads in frustration each time they see their daily rebuilding efforts ignored by the media in favor of the more "sensational" car bomb and rocket attack stories. Not to say that tragedies don't happen - Iraq is a war zone - but there is so much more happening that gets overlooked if not ignored.

Army Sgt. Addie Collins' Kicks for Kids program is an example of this. Three months ago this Army Reservist from Los Angeles asked her friends and family to forgo sending the usual box of goodies, and instead send a few pairs of kid-sized shoes, which she would hand out to Iraqi children she'd seen walking barefoot. Friends and family told friends and family, and today, 10,000 pairs later, Collins is outfitting an entire Ramadi community with sneakers, sandals and boots.

Where's her morning talk show appearance?

Many others, military members and civilians who truly care about the Iraqi people and rebuilding their nation, have stories that mirror Collins'. Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen are working hand-in-hand with the Iraqi people to build schools, pave roads and train police officers. In the process we're re-instilling the citizens of Iraq with a sense of national pride that years of oppression had smothered.

I may just be a good ol' Kentucky boy, but if my voice counts for anything, I'd say we're doing a bang-up job.

Semper Fi.

Posted by Deb at January 17, 2005 01:41 PM

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