Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Dispatches from Iraq, Part 4

Baghdad - May 5, 2004

It's Cinco de Mayo in Baghdad, Iraq. Haven't seen any celebrations yet.

Interestingly enough, I attended a party thrown by former members of the French Foreign Legion on April 30th to commemorate the Battle of Camron(?). This battle was fought shortly before the defeat of the French in Mexico during the American Civil War. Apparently, 200 legionares held off 2000 Mexican soldiers for two days. Only 7 survived. They refused to surrender so the Mexican general awarded their courage by allowing them to walk away with their arms.

During the Foreign Legion celebration, a ceremony was held. All the former legionares stood at attention while a former general (an old English guy who had apparently fought everywhere including Algeria - I met him later over drinks and found out he is in charge of my department's security) recited the occasion of the battle in perfect French. This all took place beside one of Saddam's many pools. Meanwhile, I could hear the Muslim call to prayer from over the Tigris as Blackhawks buzzed the top of the palace during sunset. Surreal to say the least.

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