These photos are from FOB Justice in Baghdad. The day that the Iraqi national soccer team played Saudi Arabia for the Asia Cup title, July 29, Justice welcomed Iraqis into the base, and well, I’ll just let LTC Steve Miska tell the story:
We recently hosted a soccer party during the final game of the Asian World Cup which Iraq won! The crowd at FOB Justice was nuts in our newly remodeled lounge on the roof. We had Arwa Damon with CNN filming it all live. Everyone involved had a great time. We then went downtown into Khadamiyah and the city had erupted in celebration. The game and parties afterward were a tremendous expression of national unity.
The photo of one guy hugging another who is crying is priceless. It portrays the whole range of emotions that we were all feeling together. The game was an awesome time and putting together the party was one of our most important experiences, demonstrating that we walk hand in hand with our Iraqi partners.
Update: I missed this when it first hit the net, but CNN’s Arwa Damon produced a great story about the party at Justice and out in Khadimiyah. Click on the image to watch.
And LTC Miska adds:
CNN’s Arwa Damon did a fantastic job with the coverage. I don’t think the story ran as much on US channels, as Americans don’t seem to care about football like the rest of the world. That being said, CNN International showed both the game party and our trip downtown amongst throngs of raving maniacs who were dancing in the streets and going nuts. It was an awesome experience made all the more poignant by Arwa’s coverage. She also followed up with an immigration story which began airing today on CNN International website. It should hit the airwaves shortly and is an extremely important attempt to highlight policy shortcomings that need to be fixed to help our Iraqi allies in this fight.
Both of my interactions with CNN (Arwa Damon and Michael Holmes) have been extremely positive. Both stories were positive news coverage, and the reporters themselves are tremendous professionals that respect our relationship and produce balanced perspectives. Sometimes the truth is hard, but I am OK with that. If someone came to visit with an agenda, I would be wary – regardless if liberal or conservative. This is just my plain old infantry opinion.
Sounds like wisdom to me.