What follows is a first-person telling of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the perspective of an eight year-old Iraqi boy living in Baghdad.
“When the Americans came to Iraq, I was scared. My father said the Americans were here to kill Muslims. My mother would roll her eyes and smile at me. But I knew she was just trying to make me feel better, because I could hear her pleading with my father at night, telling him we should flee to Jordan. But my father would not hear it. He said this was our country and we would not leave.
Then the bombs came. For days and days our city was pounded by bombs from the Americans’ loud jets. My aunt and uncle were kidnapped in the middle of the night, by the Republican Guard. I know this because I can always hear my parents talking in their bedroom, even when they whisper. My father said that Saddam took them to be human shields, although I’m not sure what that means.
My mother told me they were now with Allah, and that their souls were at peace. The next night, our neighbor burst into our home screaming that the bombs were coming. I could hear the sirens outside, but we had heard the sirens for days. My father refused to leave, but my mother and I left with the neighbor, who owned a truck. I wanted to stay with my father, but he said I must go to keep my mother safe. We rode all night to a village I had never been to, where we stayed with my neighbor’s mother.
A week later, the neighbor drove us back to our home. But when we arrived, our home was nothing but rubble. We lived near a diaper factory that had been targeted by the Americans. We started looking through the remains of our home, but almost everything we owned was either gone or broken. My mother cried all that day. My father was no where to be found. We still don’t know where he is.
We rode with our neighbor again, this time to another part of Baghdad that had not been bombed. We moved into a small house with four other families who had also lost their homes. Everyone was very nice, but I wanted to know where my father was. Every time I asked, my mother, or one of the other mothers would bring me a chocolate or give me a book to read.
A few weeks later, my older brother arrived from Lebanon, where he worked as an engineer. He told us that the Americans were coming north to Baghdad in trucks. He told me that when I got older, it would be my duty to fight the Americans. My mother got mad at him. Two weeks later, my mother told me that my brother was not coming back. I later found out he was martyred, which I think is like being murdered, but it sounds different.
When the Americans first arrived in Baghdad, we were all scared that they would shoot at us. But they didn’t. One of the other boys that lived with us was hit by an American truck and he lost his leg. The Americans came to the house and told us what had happened. They wanted permission to take him to their base so they could help him. The boy’s mother left with them. We never saw them again.
After that, I was not allowed to cross the street. We rarely saw anymore American trucks speeding by, but there were always Americans walking around and standing about outside. One time, an American showed me how to load his big gun. Sometimes they would come give me candies, or bottles of water. They were always nice, except for one. He would always give me dirty looks and once pushed me out of his way for no reason.
One very nice American used to play soccer with me and my new friends. He spoke Arabic, too. One day I asked him if he knew where my father was. I told him about our house and he did not answer me. I think I hurt his feelings. He didn’t come back again.
Then, one day, early in the morning, Americans broke into our house, shot my friend’s father and uncle and started tearing all of our furniture apart, breaking our dishes and ripping our books in half. They even ruined our Koran. The Americans took all the men from the house, tied them up with bags over their heads and put them in the back of a truck.
We never saw the Americans or the Iraqi men again. Eventually we moved to Jordan, where we live now. I like Jordan because even though our house is much smaller, it is always here and no one breaks-in. I wish my father and my brother could be here, too. Everyday, I wait for my father to find us. I tell my mother I want to stay here for ever, because it is not scary. She says this is not really our home, that we are in some sort of a camp. We never leave the camp, but it is very big and there are a lot of children, so many I cannot count them all.
There are a lot of moms, grandmothers and aunts too, but not very many fathers. Almost everyday, people bring us food and water. One day, I even got a new soccer ball. I like Jordan. I hope the Americans never come here.”
This is a fictional account, written by myself, a Jewish-American. Operation Iraqi Freedom has created at least 2.5 million refugees, all with stories very similar to the one I just told. How many more children must lose their fathers before we stop dropping bombs on people?