Guys we just had a Rally in the city of Bagdad Arizona as part of Move America Forward’s ‘Honoring Heroes at the Holidays Tour’. It was the best rally ever.
I was pretty skeptical, coming into town. We didn’t expect much. When we called Freeport McMoRan, the mining company that basically ‘owns’ the whole town, they said… “You want to do this here? Do you know anything about Bagdad, do you know how small it is?” We didn’t really care, it’s Bagdad!
So we rolled our bus into town fully expecting to have a short, tiny little rally and as we got to the parking lot of the Miner’s Diner it looked like that would be the case. There was not a single soul there to meet us.
That was okay, this town only has a few thousand residents anyways, it’s not like some gigantic media market that we’re trying to crack, but the name of the place being Bagdad, AZ it just made too much sense when the finale of our tour is (hopefully) a trip to Baghdad, Iraq. Well we were about half an hour late, so maybe they all left, That was one thought I had. The other thought was…well nobody cares.
How wrong I was.
We pulled our big red bus up close to the curb where the street traffic was, and where we thought passersbys would see us. We got some flags out from under the bus and stood there on the side of the road, pathetically begging the tiny population of two thousand to stop by on their way to work. We got a few things out and ready to go, not really expecting anyone to use or see them. Half out of boredom and half out of desperation, we decided to post a few sentries down the street, in front of the bus and up at the corner to wave flags at the few passing motorists.
It took just a few minutes, somehow, by some miracle, someone pulled up! We thought we were lucky to have car pull up and to have two women come to sign a card or two. Then, not long after, I don’t know how, but someone else pulled up and then another person saw the cars all parked, the flags, and came to investigate. Word around town traveled so quickly people started showing up all over the place. I was absolutely amazed. It was better than anything we could have expected!
There were so many kids coming up, on their bikes, walking, in cars with their parents. Couples were stopping by in pickup trucks and small SUVs. People were walking over to sign cards while their cars were gassing up. The kids were all around the table, signing cards, writing letters to our troops, everyone was so enthusiastic it was just FUN. I don’ know how else to describe it, but it was just FUN.
The owners of the local S&G gas station/mini mart came over and in our talking to them, we discovered that the husband was actually an Iraq war veteran! Michael and Margaret Adams live in Bagdad and from 2004-2005 Michael was deployed in Iraq with the US Army 1st Cavalry Division. He was stationed in the South West of Baghdad as a Forward Observer and talked a lot with me about his different jobs, training the Iraqi military, doing some missions with the Special Forces, and doing what he affectionately called psy-ops.
This kind of confused me. Psy-Ops, what’s that? Sounds like something a spy would do, like mind control or something…what it REALLY means is…outreach. Grassroots outreach, philanthropy. Psy-Ops means building infrastructure, handing out food and treats to Iraqi children, going to the orphanages, teaching the Iraqis about medicine and helping to rebuild hospitals, schools, etc., basically anything humanitarian. Mike told me that in his experience there, this kind of thing is what the soldiers really love and what makes them want to stay in Iraq. “Even if you don’t believe in the war, BELIEVE IN THE TROOPS” he said. “Even if you didn’t like the president, or believe about the WMDs,” he told me, when I asked about what he and his soldiers thought, “I didn’t want to go, but once you get over there and see the living conditions, we ended up being there for the kids, for the people. The old men, you can’t change their minds, but the kids, we are winning…we call it the hearts and minds.”
The amount of compassion that Mike and many of our soldiers over there have for the Iraqis is amazing, it’s inspiring. But I was equally amazed at these kids who we were seeing there, they were so cool, making up cards with the most adorable pictures and heartfelt emotions. And so enthusiastic as well, the kids were just BEGGING for American flags to take home with them, I was handing out our little camo-colored wristbands that say “Defend Freedom”, and they were passing them around, getting an extra one for their friends. One little girl was getting tired holding her flag, she must have been about 6 or 7 years old, and she started to put her flag down, but her big sister…still no more than 9 or 10 herself came over and stopped her, saying, ‘don’t let that flag touch the ground’. It’s enough to make the tears of pride well up in my eyes. These kids were so awesome, they were offering their allowance money, a dollar, twenty five cents, two, three dollars at a time, these kids wanted to give everything they had to support what we are doing with this national pro-troop tour. “It’s for the soldiers right?” they asked. We told them all about Move America Forward and what we do. The kids wanted to help any way they could.
I don’t know what they put in the water in Bagdad, Arizona, but whatever it is, the rest of America sure could use the kind of selfless patriotism, nationalism, and compassion for all fellow Americans, ESPECIALLY the troops, as these little kids today displayed. And this is without having a parent around trying to coach the kids or telling them what to do. This is just…good parenting, a close knit community, and good, traditional, American values hard at work.
It was tough to leave, the kids didn’t want to go home, they didn’t want us to leave, but we had to make it to Phoenix. We spent probably twice the amount of time as a normal rally in Bagdad already, so we just had to force ourselves to get back on the road. I’m on the bus on the way to Phoenix right now, waiting for Mary to show me pictures of this rally and I cannot wait!
AND HERE ARE THE STUNNING PICTURES FROM MARY