Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Farewell Friends

Before leaving Iraq for Fort Stewart, Georgia, we paid one last visit to our dear friend Sheik Hayis (spelled "Heiss" in previous posts below). Our commander, LTC Silverman, has developed a genuine and meaningful friendship with Sheik Hayis, whose leadership has been influential--even pivotal--in the success in Al-Anbar in general, and Jazeera specifically. His friendship with LTC Silverman has been extended to me, and in addition to introducing me to Sheik Abdullah, he was also instrumental in that relationship's development. Sheik Hayis and I exchanged gifts (see post "Cultural Exchange" 20 August below), and you will see he displays the Prayer at Valley Forge print above his grandfather clock.

In addition to discussing the province's progress and the importance of incorporating the rising generation of Iraqis into the stabilization and growth process, we enjoyed a traditional meal of lamb, chicken and fish with rice, pita bread and fresh vegetables. As we ate, Sheik Hayis shared with us a video recording of a local group of dervishes who performed for him the previous evening. In states of religious ecstasy, these dervishes impaled themselves with swords (through their torsos, skulls, throats, etc.) burned themselves, and demonstrated other bizarre and violent skills that they believe demonstrate the limitless support God gives to those fully devoted. As fascinating as it was to watch, my appetite suffered.
It was difficult for LTC Silverman and Sheik Hayis to say farewell to one another. Sheik Hayis' place has long been associated with progress, and the members of the colonel's and sergeant major's PSDs (personal security details) were anxious to say goodbye to him and have their pictures taken with him. I am including a recent picture of many of them here.

7 comments:

Pete and Mare said...

Thank you Nathan,

I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. I keep hoping you guys will do a family blog while you are over in Germany. As family we would love to keep up with you guys blogger style. Ether way, we sure do love you guys! Hope things are "moving" right along for you guys. ;)

I love you very much,
Mare

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