As a lad. I relished tales of the Arabian Nights and, in particular, those based in Baghdad. To me, Baghdad was a magic place, a city of golden palaces and mosques draped in glorious colours. Its very name conveyed images of bejeweled princesses wooed by handsome swains in silk robes. People rode on flying carpets while camels grazed contentedly below. Except for the occasional villain, everyone was polite, smiled constantly and wished each other peace. A day of reading such a tale was a day not to be forgotten.
But that was many, long years ago. Today, when I hear of Baghdad, I think of death, destruction and twisted metal. I think of guns and of children seeking shelter. I no longer see flying carpets, I see flying missiles. I no longer see colourful robes, I see ugly camouflage uniforms. I no longer see camels, I see tanks. That slowly rising smoke in the distance is not from a friendly campfire, it is the remains of a crashed helicopter. No one, it seems, wishes his neighbour peace anymore. How sad. How very sad.
It has been said that things oftentimes go full circle; that what once was may well be again. I sincerely pray this is true and that I will live long enough to see Baghdad as I did when I was that young lad.
Richard Torpey 2006