Christmas In Baghdad
One cannot help but feel deeply sorry that so many American servicepersons had to spend Christmas in Iraq, rather than at home with their families. Many who signed up for national Guard service had no idea that they would face active duty in a dangerous combat situation. I've known many guard members,including at least one that is a close relative. You always pray for their safety and wellbeing. Christmas in Baghdad is the most ideal area to spend an important holiday.
But the situation has changed for the people of Iraq as well. The small Christian community feels free to celebrate Christmas openly in some neighborhoods, but in others, an open display of a Christmas tree could get one killed. While some attend Christian Church services openly in some areas, others must covertly claim to be Christian. Few actually know that the second in command under Saddam Hussein, Tarig Aziz, was a Christian. The old government of Iraq was far more secular in nature, while the new government is far more oreinted around the Shiiite version of the Muslim faith.
One unfortunate event that is very likely this year is that American dead may top the 3,000 mark. But this is despite increased Iraqi ground patrols and American missions that increasinngly avoid ground combat situations. Last month the American military flew thousands of air missions over Iraq. For now this offers increased safety for American forces, but it can lead to increased Iraqi civilian dead if missiles are used against insurgents as civilians get caught in the crossfire. But the insurgents could change tactics and again plan some way to target low flying helicopters, however the jet aircraft are very safe, yet the missiles can likely kill many unfortunate civilians.
There was many far better areas of the world to spend Christmas. For the American soldiers and Iraqi Christians, Iraq was certainly a very dangerous place. All pray for the safety of our soldiers as well as a hope that Iraq will be a tolerant society where Iraqi Christians can openly practice their faith in the future.