Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.
January 29, 2004


An Nasiriyah

Hello All,

A couple days ago I had the opportunity to do something good for some Iraqi kids, but it was more for me and what I took away from the experience was more than I bargained. One of my troops has a brother who is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout, and as a project he collected school supplies for Iraqi kids in An Nasiriyah and sent them over. Well, my trooper went on leave before all of the packages arrived and he asked if Idd help out and take the last load of them into town for him. No problem says I, I like kids.

It was a simple plan. Load up the boxes, grab an interpreter and head into town with a couple troops (max out ammo, of course), hit the school, hand out the stuff, snap some pictures and get out of Dodge. "Keep It Simple, Stupid" is an Army motto that works in huge ways and generally works for me.

Intel in this area said that Iraqi's are still friendly toward American troops and from what I've seen on duty I'd agree, but never walk into anything with your eyes closed. Extra ammo for all and a reminder that bad things happen here.

Driving into the city it looked from a distance like any other. Buildings and roads and all that, but as I got closer it really began to sink in. Iraq is a third world country. Oh, you all might know that already but I was holding on to hope that there would be some similarity between Iraq and Kuwait (that and the pictures in Stars and Stripes don't show the bad side of Baghdad). The only thing similar from Kuwait was the architecture and the color of the people's skin.

There was standing water on the streets and chaos abounded. Stop signs were ignored and the only traffic light I saw blinked green in all four directions as beaten up late models of everything rolled along the streets. The buildings were worn from neglect, war and one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet. People shuffled alongside the roads on what sidewalks were available and around the puddles (see ponds) of water left from a sewer clogged with garbage and Saddam Hussein's neglect. The smell was subtle due to a favorable wind, but it hinted at the putrid decay of a dying city.

The drive was uneventful considering the traffic conditions. It seems like people just went whatever direction on any street that they wanted, and when in Rome... so I joined the locals as part of the problem, but my hummer (see Army for 4 wheel drive Truck, a nod and a wink to my fine Italian readers) had right of way as the largest vehicle on the road.

As I pulled up to the school I saw a tremendous amount of garbage floating in the street and searched my memory for another place as filthy. In all my travels (which are not that extensive really) I have never seen anyplace quite this bad. It seems like all the residents just chuck their refuse out their windows and onto the street and pretend it's not there. The worst was the diapers. There is a five-foot wall around the school, and just outside it (where I parked) there was a pile of used and especially rank diapers. The temperature was around 50 degrees but I can only imagine how bad it will be when the temperature hits the 120's. I don't know how anyone can stand to live like that; I can only imagine that a complete loss of self respect could drive someone to live in such squalor.

The kids were beyond cute. They were captivating with saucer eyes and quiet little voices. Some knew hellos and goodbyes in English and all smiled as we handed out crayons and t-shirts; hearts melting as we wished we could do more for them. The hard part was how they begged. When we were trying to leave they swarmed the truck and begged for ANYTHING and few showed the slightest amount of pride by holding their tongues. I guess when you've got nothing you've got nothing to lose and pride can be a luxury, but it didn't sit well with me. If I heard Jake beg like that, well, I don't know what I'd do.

We returned to base without incident and what started out as a trip to make me feel good about being in Iraq had twisted into something far different. I DID feel good about helping out the kids, but I realized that this country needed a lot more help than I realized. The culture here is far different than I realized. These people live in garbage and don't bother to even throw it into a barrel and burn it. Content to let it sit in the street and fester, no one has had the initiative to start their own garbage hauling business. Then again, why would you pay someone to haul your garbage away when it sits just fine on the road?

If this is how they're content to live, I don't know if we can help these people. Democracy depends on the individuals (not all of them, you only need a few leaders to get it done) taking a personal interest in the lives of the populace, and it seems like nobody here cares. I hope I'm wrong on this.

I love you all,

Will

PS - that light seems stalled out and unmoving... sound familiar?

11:17 AM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Hi Will;

It's always good to get a posting from you. I worry when you haven't written for awhile.

I will be the first to admit that I don't know a whole heck of a lot about other cultures; but, I think some cultures are not taught..hey lets burn that trash or pick it up. This is how they grew up and they don't realize there is anything other than a lifestyle like this.

I just hope you realize how many people that pray for you and your men daily, fly our flags, because men like you make it possible, and have pride in our soldiers. You guys are the best.

debby

Posted by: debby on January 29, 2004 11:35 AM

As Debby said above, I don't know that much about what's REALLY going on over there. Even you soldiers only have a partial view since you cannot fraternize closely enough with the populace to get to the bottom line. I have a gut feeling, though, that most of those people definitely do NOT want to live like that, and that compassion is a necessity or violence will never end. One theory I have about the example you brought up is that it's quite possible that many have thought of the very ideas you are talking about, but maybe they're not allowed to burn for some reason, maybe they are scared to try in case they get into trouble. Maybe someone would like to start a refuse-hauling business, but doesn't have the money, or because of the bureacracy or lack thereof, redtape or whatever, it's not getting done.

Posted by: Trish on January 29, 2004 11:59 AM

I'm new to your postings but I really enjoy them. I've read all your past postings and feel as though I'm caught up. I do have to say my husband is in Iraq at cedar II. I get a better understanding of life out side the camp from reading your eye opening postings. I wish you well and all service members a safe and fast trip home. Thank you and I will keep praying for some peace in Iraq. Please don't get discouraged your there to do your job not save the world. I feel that the army is doing a great job to improve the lives of a lot of people keep up the good work. I'm sure your rotation will come soon. untill next time keep you head high and take care. Andrea

Posted by: Andrea on January 29, 2004 12:00 PM

It's very hard to help others who don't wish to help themselves. But, like Debby said, if they haven't known any other way...

Those kids need some one to look up to and our troops who hold pride in themselves and their country are a good start.

I like to stick to the thought that we are there to help these people, we will make a difference in their lives. We might not see it tomorrow, but things will improve.

Thank you for your firsthand views, I personally appreciate knowing you are there Will, and your thoughts are written for all eyes to read and comprehend.

Posted by: Mary on January 29, 2004 12:04 PM

Hi! My name is Nicole and I am writing from Canada. I stumbled across your blog today and I'm glad that I did. I am finding it intriquing to read and I appreciate that you are writing from overseas. Technology has certainly improved since WW1 when people would wait weeks for a telegram about how the war is progressing. This is just amazing.

In school the other day we learnt of the KISS concept and I thought it was neat see that you use it as part of your army motto!

Take care out there. I will pray for you.

Posted by: Nicole on January 29, 2004 01:41 PM

Good piece of descriptive & reflective writing. Keep hitting the keyboard.

Posted by: Tom on January 29, 2004 07:45 PM

Thank you for writing about your experiences. I try to read as many blogs as I can from those in Iraq. Whether Iraqi or American. My uncle is over there and he will be coming back about the same time my brother will head out. And eventually I will go there to. Good luck to you and ever over there!
For everyone readin this blog, there is an initiative called Operation Give ( OperationGive.org ) that is making a big difference getting clothes, toys, and school supplies for Iraqi children. If you have a few extra bucks, send it their way.

Jose

Posted by: Jose on January 29, 2004 07:57 PM

Wow! Will I can totally understand your point when it comes to the level of cleanliness over there. I work with Iraqi foreign language speakers, and I have also noticed a complete lackof cleanliness here as well. The females leave their feminine waste all over the porta potties (there's a hole -use it-duh). The water they use to cleanse themselves (see nether regions) before prayer is left all over the stool, with a complete disregard for the next individual. If there are bags of garbage and they have an item to throw away I have watched them just throw it down next to the bags instead of placing the garbage inside. IMO- you're beyond hope if you can't get the fundamentals.

Posted by: Bianca on January 29, 2004 08:39 PM

I hate to say this, but welcome to the third world. These are the type of people that we tried to help in Somalia, South America, Central America, Asia, Africa and pretty much every place we've worked to bring them a better way of life. Just as you can't comprehend letting your garbage pile up in the street, they can't imagine giving it a passing thought. If you grow up smelling shit, smelling roses is something new to you. If you grow up smelling roses, smelling shit is something new to you. They don't see through your eyes and you don't see through theirs. It's like back in the fifties when t.v. first came out and kids would try and get their parents to buy one. They would say "Why? The radio works fine and gives us what we need." It will take a long time before they appreciate the benefits you offer. Until they do, they will always say "Why? This works fine the way it is." There are still older people who won't even consider getting a computer. YOU know and I know and anyone reading this knows what a miracle the internet is but there are those who have never experienced it and won't miss it until they do. This is one of the real fights for LIBERTY and FREEDOM. Hurts don't it.

Posted by: CaptainScarecrow on January 29, 2004 08:54 PM

Look's like I'm part of the relief crew heading over there at some soon unknown date. I've enjoyed your blog for months and pray for you safe return. The bloggers over there have left some big shoes to fill, hopefully we're up to the task.

Posted by: Sean on January 30, 2004 01:52 AM

Hi Will,

You don't have to go as far as you have to find the same thing right here in the good ole USA. Several years ago, I went completely insane and work as a home health nurse for a local pediatric hospital. I lasted 2 years.( what was I thinking??)

In "THE PROJECTS", some of the homes had roaches so thick I had to slap them off my hands in order to put my sterile gloves on. We kept sterile dressings and IV supplies in Tupperware containers, hoping the mutant bugs didn't know how to open lids. Some of the houses smelled so bad of urine and filth, that we had to suck on a Halls throat lozengers to keep from gagging on the smell. I'm sure my patients thought their nurse had a constant "cold". I've stepped over sleeping adult bodies to get to the infant being cared for by the 5 yr old. I've seen 3 and 4 yr olds panhandleing in the streets because their mom sold their WICK food for crack.
Why do people live this way? Simply because they didn't know any better and had poor role models and poor training at home. They haven't had hygeine class in PE, been taught about germs in biology and are more concerned about how they are going to feed themselves and family for today. Tomorrow is too much to consider.
We are a blessed people and nation, and you have been blessed with a rare opportunity to step outside of yourself and see life from a different reality. The change will come, one child, one gift, one visit at a time.

Stay safe,

Williams family

Posted by: Williams Family on January 30, 2004 04:44 AM

Haven't replied in awhile but I do continue to enjoy your posts Will.
As far as helping, it is true to a certain extent that you can't help those that don't want to be helped. But, you could be dealing with people who have just never known any other way.
You can bet that those kids will never forget what you did and all that it will take is a few of them carrying that as they grow. They will be the ones to push for change and every little thing anyone can do to incourage them to develop a healthy sense of self and a decent intellect, will bring about change in more ways than you can imagine!

Take care.

Posted by: Kathy on January 30, 2004 11:04 AM

I have lived in third world countries and marveled at the contrasts between the beauty of the architecture, the cultural ceremonies, the art veersus the squalor and decay of the day to day life. It is hard for us to comprehend how such polar opposites can exist in the same frame. We should be thankful that we have the luxury of the education, the convenieces of the modern world, the things we take for granted. It is this background that allows us to have the perspective we do, that allows us to look upon such conditions with contempt. Some of the folks on here speak of not being able to help those who don't want to help themselves. These people need to take a step back and imagine for a minute if you were in a position like these citizens in Iraq. Imagine being beaten, being killed, living in fear if you took the initiative to make a change. If you spoke up for yourself you were beaten down, mentally and physically,. Imagine being the child of parents who lived their entire lives with the fear of having a freedom of thought that we take so much for granted here in the United States. We fight for the right to speak freely, to think. Most of these people have never known the feeling of being encouraged to be creative, free thinking, change makers. They have been raised in an environment of terrorism, not the terrorism we think of like Sept 11. But the terrorism brought about by leaders who manipulate, brainwash, or beat you into submission. When you have nothing, no pride, no strength, no control over your own lives, do you think you would have time to care about where you garbage goes? We, as Americans, as soldiers, as human beings, need to look at the root cause and work from there. It took decades for that city to fall to ruin, you can see the glory of its past in the architecture. It used to be a beautiful thriving city, now through years of abuse of its people, it has fallen to despair. We have to go into these places and nuture the roots, find the common fertile ground, and cultivate. We shold never try to force the indigenous peoples of another antion to follow our ideals, live by our rules. We should nuture what is positive from their own cultures and teach them how new practices will better them and their civilization. That is where our modern adn "civilized" views of personal hygiene, environmentalism, public health, etc can be introduced.

Posted by: selina on January 30, 2004 11:16 AM

Hello Will,

This is coming to you from Braden's, "Yo Mama" Wayment.

After reading your account, the lump in my throat once again turned to tears, which has happened so often since Braden left home on 03-03-03 to augment the 323rd from his unit here in Utah. My younger, son, Brant (the soon-to-be Eagle Scout) originally planned a project to raise and level headstones in the Veteran's section of the Salt Lake City cemetery, which are badly in need of attention. (Utter shame that these veterans have been neglected in this way, isn't it?) B & B's grandparents (my parents) are both veterans of WWII and have honored resting places in the Veteran's cemetery located at Camp Williams, about 20 miles south of SLC and this cemetery is kept in wonderful shape, with the headstones all lined up, neat and even.

But then B1 (Braden) calls home and talks to B2 (Brant) and says, Hey! Can you change your project and do something to help the kids in Iraq?! You see, don't tell him I told you, but my sons have always had a special place in their hearts and souls for children. Especially those that aren't as fortunate as the rest of us.

At first B1 wanted B2 to collect for an orphanage and was helping him coordinate it. Then the holy month of Ramadan arrived and, as you know, the 323rd was busier than ever and the threat level high, so B1 was too 'occupied' with that whole 'war thing' to further the project. (Go figure!) Then, when things cooled off, he said that the Red Cross had stepped in and was helping the orphanages but that the schools were very much in need. So, once again, B2 switched gears to focus on the needs of a school.

You wouldn't believe the support Brant received from friends and neighbors! The donations just piled up! There was paper, pencils, pens, crayons, folders, scissors, sharpeners and everything else you could imagine. There were clothes, backpacks and bags. And one family must have cleaned off a shelf at Target, buying all sorts of soccer, rubber and other types of balls, along with air pumps. They brought their two little boys with them when they dropped them off and the boys showed us what their favorite balls were that they wanted the Iraqi children to play with.

When we finished boxing and mailing everything, there were 14 boxes that totaled 234 pounds! Thankfully we had over $500 in donations to pay for shipping. And guess what?! We've received even more supplies after our cut off date and are awaiting word from Braden for where we can continue to send these things.

Will, your help, along with the other soldiers, in helping Braden bring Brant's Eagle Scout project to fruition has been very much appreciated. We'll be holding his Court of Honor some time after Braden arrives home and I want you all to know that you're invited. Come! Help us celebrate a great Eagle project and the safe return of the soldiers of the 323rd!

May God bless and bring each and every one of you home safely and soon.

Jo Wayment, AKA: "Yo Mama" Wayment

Posted by: Jo Wayment on January 30, 2004 03:31 PM

what a powerful entry. not really sure i even have the words to say what i'm thinking. keep making us all remember why we are so lucky to be where we are.

Posted by: JrzyGyrl on January 31, 2004 10:37 AM

I know, if that had been me, going into that city of 'offal', I would have promptly gotten out and immediately started cleaning. started giving orders, pointing out things to move, directing people, children, anyone around, and set to work, intent on cleaning up. if it attracted attention, I'd ask people watching if they had any useable tools-shovels? rakes? wagons? barrels? plastic bags? gloves? bleach? anything they could go get and bring to the effort. spread the word far and wide thru the town, that the business of the day was to clean up the place. everybody join in!
pick a suitable spot to bring and burn the trash. dig out those clogged sewers, and maybe gutters or trenches, to rerout the water runoff, so the ponds don't form. have an interpreter along to translate everything you say ,so the people 'get it'. make a religious speech to the crowd, that as a person is to ritually clean themselves before each prayer time, 5 times a day, so should they look around them, wherever they are, when they hear the call to prayer, and clean up their town before prayer, 5 times a day. remind them that the first cleanup will be huge, lifting up years of offensive stench, but once the first cleansing is complete, if they religiously make sure to clean up their surroundings, as well as themselves, before approaching God, that it will never be like this again. with every person aware and doing it, their town will be as beuatiful as the Tomb of the Prophet's Son.
In my speech, I would describe the idea of a town cleanup corps, maybe kids, maybe young people, maybe old people, the religious, or adults wanting to set an example. Speak of a town coming to agreement, to drastically show the world how different the people and the nation is determined to be, with the monstrosity of Saddam finally off their spirit.
I would seek out the civil affairs officer nearest my unit and put this to them. I would ask to contact the army corps of engineers, the seabees, the peace corps back home, to come there and do what they do so well.
I would teach the people about recycling-knowing to separate their trash into different materials, and make them understand that there is MONEY to be had! for collecting up tons of paper, plastic, glass, aluminum!!! yes!!! i would teach them about organic vegetable trash going into a small compost heap, ultimately to be brought to the local, larger heap, to make fertile soil to plant things in.
years ago in america, no one thought about their littering. they tossed or dropped their discards mindlessly, wherever they were no longer interested in it. i remember the landscape:rusting beer cans, broken bottles, gum wrappers, dumping anywhere... it took Earth Day 1970 to wake people up. It took decades more to get people to recycle. as the williams family reports, people still haven't gotten the message. but you don't quit. you show them. make it a habit.make it the new way.
make sure you impress this on your replacements when the new guys rotate in, so they can carry on behind you, when you leave. get something started, like cheif wiggles did with operation give. this is more of what we came to give the iraqis. we CAN change the world. if it bothers you deeply and stays with you, get up, and start doing something to change it. light a fire under somebody. at least light a fire under the trash! show the locals what the army does, with its trash, out in the hinterlands! find out who the leaders are, the local respected figures everyone will listen to and heed. kids will learn anything. make it a game, a ritual, a habit. ask your troops back in camp if it bothers them, and if they want to do something about it. ask your superiors if you could all do something, first to show, and then to teach, to lead, and get everyone into it.

Posted by: janet in venice beach on January 31, 2004 10:51 AM

Since when do you like kids? :)

I'm sure this little side trip was a big eye-opener, if not just a bit unnverving. I can't even imagine it. Things I experienced on some of my trips just can't even compare to this. And two thumbs up to B1 and B2 for doing what they could to help out.

SuperBowl Sunday here (Pats are up at the half). Yeah, I'm home cuz there's more snow. We are looking for 8-10 inches by the time tomorrow rolls around. Oh joy.

Will, that light has better just be stalled cuz if it goes out, I'm gonna be giving someone a piece of my mind!

Posted by: Shell on February 1, 2004 07:35 PM

If you read Riverbend's blog you would know that basic services in Iraq (particularly electricity and water) are terrible. Only 60% of the population has access to drinking water (http://www.defenselink.mil/la/ppt/pp_pres_1_26_04.ppt). What makes you think that the garbage removal service works any better than the other services? Any town in the USA would look exactly the same if all the utilities shut down.

People live like that because they have no choice, not because they want to.

Posted by: James on February 2, 2004 10:58 PM

Hello likeable Will ;-)

Thanks for have told us (my fine Italian readers),well,we swallow very willingly thiis compliment and considering that year is begun,of the point of view affective so so maybe Love is trowing his arrows of the goes wrong in direction....and Adriana smile for Milena ahahahah...
Receive this compliment by you is very sweet for us.
9th lesson:
Hello?,Pronto?-How are you?,Come stai?-I’m fine,Sto bene-And you?,Etu?-Lovely meet you,Piacere di vederti.

A greeting by nice italian girls
Milena and Adriana CIAO

Posted by: milena,adriana on February 3, 2004 12:32 AM

Dear Will,

First off, I would like to say I once worked in a cattle feed lot were I used to spend half of my time hauling manure and slopping around in poop half way up to my knees. But your Jan. 29 post, YUK!!!
I would like to think that you just had coincidentally driven through the crummy section of town on the way to deliver your school supplies in Nasiriyah; however, I often see rubble and trash lying around all over in pictures I see in the news about Iraq. Your commenters above strike me as being a little too charitable and optimistic (maybe naive and unrealistic) in their excuses for the Iraqi peoples' squalor. Not know any better?!! There is a monumental disconnect here. They do their purification rituals as Bianca mentions (which I suppose involves bathing) before prayers and then walk through the sewer to get to their house of worship. They think they can't eat perfecly good Iowa corn-fed pork (I suppose because they think hogs are dirty rather than because of the possibility of contracting trichinosis) and then they live like hogs themselves. And, by the way, hogs happen to be the only common farm animal that will housebreak. Remember the Veitnamese pot-bellied pigs that were a fad pet several years ago? Hogs, if given a choice, will do their business in just one spot in the pen. If you farrow your sows in crates, you let them out morning and night and they will wait and go potty then and their bedding area stays clean. The Iraquis in Nasiriyah can't seem even to do that. Even if nobody cares what the place looks and smells like, anybody with half a brain should have some inkling of the health consequences of living is such filth. I used to think, after hearing about the high unemployment in Iraq, 'What better thing for all these man with nothing to do than to go out and pick up trash and beautify their cities. They won't make any money doing that, but neither are they making any mony sitting on their fannies and complaining.' Stupid me,

I sincerely wish, Debby, Trish, Mary Captain Scarecrow, Williams Family, Selina, Janet, that I could wave my magic wand, drop you in the middle of Nasiriyah and let you have at it. Keep in mind the old adage about teaching a person to fish vs. giving him a fish. It is good to give school supplies to the kids, but will it really make a difference overall? I hope so, but don't count on it.

Will, I really appreciate all the dirty work you guys are doing over there so the rest of us can live safely here at home in the best country in the world.

Posted by: South Dakota on February 4, 2004 09:38 PM

South Dakota.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I lived in filth and squlaor. I lived with fear, violence, and terror. I lived without the strength or ability to speak for myself for fear of retribution, physical and verbal.
Someone stronger, someone more enlightened, saw somethign worth saving. That someone taught me to fish once and I am fishing well today. I feel it is only right that I share that knowledge.
When we shelter ourselves from the rest of the world and write off other human beings as unsaveable, we become uncivilized.

Posted by: selina on February 5, 2004 09:12 AM

Hi Will,
Wow, I had no idea that things were that bad. I was so sad after reading your post. I too feel very pessimistic when I hear things like this. These people need to take some pride. It sounds like there is little to no hope in most parts of Iraq. All the kings horses and all the kings men won't be able to put Iraq back together with things like this going on in most places. Those poor little kids. That's is what is really sad. These children are growing up in total squalor, with no hope from their families, and no organization of anything. I sincerely hope that things get better over there, but like you said, it's difficult to be optimistic. I guess we just have to keep trying. Will, I hope the light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and becoming more warm as time goes by. You are not forgotten. Hang in there and stay safe.

Posted by: Dawn on February 9, 2004 11:54 AM

Top 'o the mornin to ye Willie me lad.

Faith and Begorra, in all my sixty odd years nere have I seen or heard such as the tale yer tellin.
When I was a wee one there lived in the neighborhood a family of little means who did throw trash all about their yard. Yet, many a well kept house with nary a mite of trash to be seen would they have noted as they passed by on their way to town to buy beer. In my youth I once helped friends to get some goods they had bought of two brothers who lived in a very dirty house. Afterward the friend, who knew the family well, did comment "Their mother was such a good housekeeper. Its turning in her grave right now she'd be, could she but see her house as tis now."

Once grown, I meself did once work for a man who neither laundered nor bathed. He did spit on the floor in the house, made water off the front doorstep, threw his auld tin cans in a box in the midst of the kitchen, and his bed linens were completely black with the dirt. Tis God's truth I'm tellin ye. My sister's wee terrier had cleaner bed than he. Whilst his childhood home may have been lacking in sanitation, yet ne'er could he have lived like that when he served in the army in WWII. The family he lived with as a young hired man were were good clean people too. And poor, stupid, lazy,and underpriviledged he was not. In fact, a right successful, self made man was he.

So all these folk had chosen to live as they did, though they had surely seen a better way, or even once had lived better themselves. The man I worked for, he'd lived dirty and he'd lived clean, and tis dirty he'd chosen to be. I can't be speaking for the citizenry of Nasiriyah, but methinks there be more to this living in filth and squalor than merely not knowin better. Faith and begorra! what this world be commin to 'tis beyond the ken of an old dog like me. May the luck o' the Irish be with ye and yer mateys

Posted by: auld dog on February 10, 2004 08:50 PM

North Dakota - Go back 150 years and you find spring water plumbing hooked up to cesspools in London. Don't believe me? Read http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/snowbook.html .

It's an account of how a scientist, John Snow, figured out how cholera was being spread and what he had to do to convince people that living in, and near, shit wasn't very good for them. Until the British conquered India, they had never experienced cholera so Snow had an uphill battle overcoming "but we've always done it this way.." kind of thinking.

The fact is that our ancestors of not so long ago used to empty their bowels into little pots and then dump the contents on the city streets. The poor didn't have that luxury - ever hear the expression "too poor to have a pot to shit in?" It was considered a luxury to have a chamber pot.

Read Scottish histories of Edinborough in the 1800's and you read about the stench from people tossing their sewage into the street. As late as the 1890's, Malthusian pundits of the day were forecasting how Boston would be buried in horse shit as the population grew. Had it not been for the newfangled horseless carriage, it may have happened.

Bottom line - our ancestors didn't know any better and just lived with the disease that resulted. We're lucky to live in a society that teaches all its children hygeine so it comes as second nature to almost all of us. We have sewer systems that keep our waste separate from our drinking water.

What Will's story of Nasiriyah illustrates is how far we've come in the past century and a half. Will's in a time machine of sorts - he's looking at how our ancestors lived because they just didn't know.

Now the problem is we can't do what Janet in Venice Beach suggests - just start ordering people to behave differently because we know better. That strategy won't get you very far. If we're too help Nasiriyah, it's going to take teaching them about germs, how they're spread and how *everyone* has to put their garbage out to be picked up. Problem is, people being people, you're going to have some people who understand and some who think it's a plot to control them - which in a sense, it is. They're going to have to pay a tax to fund the garbage collection and some citizens are going to object. The bad guys will use the tax as a weapon against us for no other reason than to make us look bad.

Ridding London of Cholera wasn't an easy task. Initially, it was because nobody understood the disease, but once a few came to understand how it spread, not everyone understood. That meant inspectors had to go around and fine people who had their cesspools draining into the spring water. Imagine how that went over. "My family has lived here for 500 years and no one's ever complained before. Who the hell do you think you are?"

Posted by: michael on February 13, 2004 06:02 AM

*sighs*

Hi Will....

I'm catching up with your last three posts, as I've been dealing with my own issues. My son lost his dad days short of Halloween, and it's tough on an 8 yr. old. No tougher than the children of Iraq have it though.

*sighs*

I wish there was some sort of 'project' my son and I can do for the children/people of Iraq, and if you or any readers have any ideas, email me please. Perhaps helping children that have lost much more than a parent would help my son, AND others as well.

Keep the faith Will....if YOU lose the faith, so many of your readers would be disappointed. *not much burden there, huh?*


Godspeed,
Judi

Posted by: Judi Eckes on February 17, 2004 06:24 PM

Will,

I am writing a book about the battle for An Nasiriyah, "Marines in the Garden of Eden." May I use some of your descriptions of the city and people?

Posted by: Richard Lowry on March 13, 2004 06:56 AM
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No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
Quotes
Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.
~General George S. Patton
Who's Will Anyway?
What's All This Then?
As most of the regular readers of Rooba.net know, I have a few friends that have been sent or called up for the soon-to-be-conflict in Iraq. One such friend is Will aka Will not weasel or Will from Omaha or whatever other moniker he's using on my site that day.

Will is a pretty good writer and this is the collection of his writings. It'll be interesting to hear updates from a soldier's point of view, so I'll be posting them for all to read.

Take care Will

~Captain Rooba
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