Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

U.S. Soldiers extend olive branch
Multi-National Forces-Iraq ^ | Spc. Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown

Posted on 12/25/2006 10:31:19 AM PST by SandRat

Story and photo by Spc. Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown
210th MPAD

ImageLSA ANACONDA -- The olive tree. It has long held deep-seeded symbolism in several cultures; the crown of Olympic champions in ancient Greece, a sign of peace in Christian and Jewish faiths, and an icon of the Prophet Mohammed in Islam.

Shajarat zaytun in Arabic, the olive tree is very hearty and long-lived, and can survive in conditions of almost total neglect. The tree is not especially remarkable in appearance or stature, but its meaning and practical use is where this little tree leaves its mark.

A few centuries of symbolism combined with three Iraqi citizens, two U.S. Army colonels, and one Army Reserve unit, and you are left with a lasting legacy of the partnership between U.S. forces and the people of Iraq.

On Dec. 23, a ceremony was held by the 164th Corps Support Group which falls under the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), to begin the planting of 164 olive trees on Anaconda.

“The olive tree is a symbol of peace and this is the message we want to leave the citizens of Iraq,” said Master Sgt. Patricia A. Marsano, the field ordering officer for the 164th.

The Crestline, Ohio native said the olive tree project was a challenge from her command to leave her unit’s area on Anaconda better than how they found it.

“There are so many trees dying around here, so we researched what kind would survive best in this environment. Also, it’s the symbol of peace which we all hope for,” Marsano said. She said the unit thought trees would be a fitting gesture for both their practical use in this country and their symbolism.

Marsano, along with the help of 1st Sgt. Roberto Galicia of Ontario, Calif., also of the 164th, approached the California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc., in September, and submitted the request for a donation of olive trees to plant in Iraq.

The CRFG responded with great interest in assisting the Soldiers and set out to find a grower who would help with the project. In the end, 164 olive trees of five different varieties were sent to Iraq via Federal Express, who footed the shipping bill.

The trees were shipped Dec. 7 and arrived on Anaconda in time to be planted as an unconventional kind of Christmas tree.

“It holds extra meaning, especially this time of year … it is the spirit of giving,” Marsano said.

At the ceremony, three trees were planted; two by U.S. Army colonels, and one by a group of three Iraqi citizens who work on the base. The remainder of the 164 trees will be planted along Anaconda’s main road, Pennsylvania Avenue, within the next few days.

Maithan Saeed, an Iraqi citizen and translator on the base, was one of the three Iraqis who took part in the ceremony.

“It’s a small contract for friends,” Saeed said of the trees. From the small town of Dujail near Balad, Saeed grew up in a farming area and knows the worth of this versatile tree.

Olives are a staple of the Iraqi diet. The fruit’s oil can be used for cooking, lamp oil, cosmetics, and medicine, and the tree bears strong timber. The versatility of the tree, and the fact that every part of it can be used, demonstrate how the plant is invaluable to the Iraqi people.

“We respect this tree because it came from heaven,” Saeed said of the tree’s significance in the Muslim faith.

Saeed, who has been an interpreter for U.S. troops for two years and a security guard on this base before then, said the act shows the friendship between the two nations.

“I believe there is too much wrong in this country,” Saeed said of why he wanted to work for the Americans. Since coming to work on Anaconda, Saeed has been shot at twice on visits to his village and can no longer return to his own home. He is currently working on obtaining a visa to the United States where he may be awarded American citizenship for aiding the troops here.

Just in time for Christmas, this gesture can be an example of how future relations in Iraq would hope to be seen. Hearty, strong, and lasting as the olive tree.

“It represents the very essence of why we serve, and ultimately represents the hope for this nation, and for the peaceful existence of all the people of Iraq,” said Col. Megan P. Tatu, commander of the 164th.

Simultaneously on this day in a different time zone, the CRFG orchestrated a planting in San Luis Obispo, Calif., to demonstrate the gift of peace from the American people, to their Iraqi counterparts.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: frwn; olivebranch; soldiers; us

1 posted on 12/25/2006 10:31:21 AM PST by SandRat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...

WAR News You'll Hear Nowhere Else!

All the News the MSM refuses to use!

2 posted on 12/25/2006 10:31:43 AM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
He is currently working on obtaining a visa to the United States where he may be awarded American citizenship for aiding the troops here.

We really should reimburse the Iraqis, so let's send Medea Benjamin, Gael Murphy and Leslie Cagan to Iraq so they can collect their reward of alQaeda membership. They can be bin Laden's concubines.

3 posted on 12/25/2006 10:36:07 AM PST by Doctor Raoul (BUSH KNEW liberals didn't have the balls to fight terrorism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson