Some excerpts of stories about how the soldiers observed our own Freedom Day.
A story set at Camp Victory.
Like many military operations in Iraq, July 4th celebrations began at dawn.And that story continued in another news source...
To beat the brutal summer heat, soldiers wanting to participate in a 10-kilometer fun run at Camp Victory, on the outskirts of Baghdad, gathered at 5:30 a.m., when the temperature dropped to 80 degrees.
The run was the first in a series of events giving soldiers, those not on guard duty or combat patrol, a chance to enjoy the most American of holidays.
The only beer soldiers in Iraq are allowed to drink is nonalcoholic, but at the mess halls, cooks set up outdoor grills to barbecue T-bone steaks, burgers, hot dogs and chicken. Cakes and pies were decorated in red, white and blue icing at the mess hall, where James Brown played over the speakers.
For the combat soldiers on duty, there was no letup. U.S. commanders did not want to slow their operations on July 4 for fear insurgents would use the day for a symbolic attack.
"We're going to maintain offensive operations," Col. Michael Formica, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade. "We're going to continue to push the enemy."Consider, please, the impression that must have been made on the Iraqis, for most of whom freedom is a new and untested concept. Consider how remarkable it must be to see 20 somethings from the US Army throw a party in the miserable summer heat in Baghdad to celebrate our own independence 228 years ago.
But he said that there would be other celebrations later in the month to make up for the busy schedule.
The one thing missing was fireworks.
"At least not from our side," one officer wisecracked.
But in Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit, soldiers watched fireworks light the night sky as they held a joint celebration with Iraqi National Guard soldiers on a bank overlooking the Tigris. Thousands of troops celebrated at one of Saddam's old palaces with a buffet featuring burgers and hot dogs and traditional Iraqi dishes.
They must imagine that one could get used to this whole idea of freedom.