Untold Stories of Kindness
by Ernesto Haibi, Ft. Lewis, WA
My time in Iraq showed
me the truth of my beliefs. I believe in mankind -- not
gods, not devils, not angels and not spirits. I saw
man's bravery from both soldier and civilian, and I saw
horror and destruction from them, too. I saw hate and
loathing from all sides, and I saw caring for children,
rebuilding of hospitals and schools, and feeding the
poor. Not by a government but by individuals, by one man
helping another man.
As a medic, I went to local clinics to inspect
conditions and help when I could. I delivered supplies
to schools and relief centers, and Iraqis who knew us
would bring us tea and cigarettes. Language was the only
barrier, but a friendly smile bulldozed that wall.
I saw men moved by the death of innocents and was with
those same men when they killed those responsible. On
June 24, 2004, insurgents detonated several car bombs
around the city of Mosul, killing over one hundred -- no
cops, no Iraqi national guardsmen, no Americans -- all
innocent civilians. Cars were covered in blood as if
they'd been hit with a paint sprayer. My unit fought
Zarqawi-backed insurgents in a firefight that lasted
almost eight hours. Then people moved quickly to help
out -- Iraqi civilians as well as American troops. But
it shouldn't take a war for people to get along.
I don't justify our reasons for this war -- that's not a
soldier's luxury -- and I don't justify what the
insurgents have done to the Iraqis. But the passion of
all sides -- Iraqi, American, ally and insurgent --
shows that if man can redirect his energies to one of
acceptance and not intolerance, we can bring the zealot,
the politician, the soldier and the outsider to a place
where man is just that: man.
Many say that I'm cut off from the real world, but I
believe they are the ones missing the truth. For all the
death and destruction reported in the news, there are
thousands of stories of kindness and caring that no one
I believe that by striving for a world that accepts its
oneness, we can transform wars, intolerance, religious
persecution and political extremism into memory and
maybe even folklore.
Sgt. Ernesto Haibi is a medic in the 23rd Infantry
Battalion based in Ft. Lewis, Washington. His military
service includes five years in the Air Force and 10
years in the National Guard. Haibiís blog, Candle in the
Dark, explores his wartime experiences.