NOTE: Nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries is on assignment in Iraq. He is speaking with troops and reporting live to his U.S. audiences. He offers his observations to the TownHall.com audience.
(by Rusty Humphries, Townhall.com) Dateline: Baghdad, more specifically one of Saddam’s Palaces in Camp Victory – Before I get into what I did and saw in Fallujah, I must tell you about Saddam’s “Palace.” There are many more of these palaces than I thought. They are everywhere. Some are within blocks of each other. I stayed in one of his palaces that have been turned into a hotel for visiting dignitaries. I would think that (if it were real), Disney’s Haunted Mansion may have been a magnificent place a long time ago, that’s how the palace I stayed in was. The guy who had this place built had a lot of money and zero taste. Big ugly gold fixtures are everywhere, nice marble floors, a lot of rooms but the best word to describe it all is tacky! The military has turned this palace and others into make shift hotels. Nothing works but hey, it’s better than the tent I stayed in last night. Note to Disney, once this war is over, you guys could come out here, gut this place and turn it into a great amusement park. The resort is here, there’s a beautiful lake, lots of sand, and sunshine. Fix it up, I’d come back. Now, the Al-Fam Palace where we have put the multi-national HQ — now that’s a palace! Too bad Saddam’s new home is smaller than his palace bathroom.
On with the good stuff, and there is plenty good to report. I took a midnight helicopter ride from Camp Victory to Camp Fallujah and was in Fallujah for 24 hours. That city has a chance, should they decide to take the opportunity. If you’ve ever been to Israel, and seen the Palestinian areas, you’ve seen Fallujah. It’s amazing how similar the areas are. Dirty, dusty, garbage in the streets, graffiti as far as the eye can see. As we drove through the streets in our convoy, the resident came out to give us the thumbs up. Lining the streets as if we were in a parade – men, women, and children, all showing their support for our troops, everywhere! It was so heartwarming and was much more prevalent than I had expected. Yes, there are those who don’t like us, but they aren’t showing their faces. The ones who have seen the promise of a new day are out in the open and plentiful.
I’ve met so many wonderful members of the armed forces. I had dinner with a young man, Maj. Chris Phelps from Shawnee, Kansas. He’s a Civil Affairs Team Commander. This is the kid you dream your daughter brings home. Movie star good looks, smart, funny and with a strong character. His father is a Vietnam veteran who returned to duty and is now in his unit, stationed in Iraq. He outranks his father, (Daddy drop and give me 20!). Major Phelp’s job is to go out and work with the people of Iraq on a daily basis. He sees it all, and tells stories of Iraqis who thank us on a daily basis for the freedoms they are starting to see. He told me, “The Iraqis want the same thing we want in America, security, an opportunity to live, prosper, and have a good job. They want to raise their children to live in an environment that gives them the opportunity to have something better than they had.”
One Iraqi I met is a young man who serves as Maj. Phelps’ interpreter, Musapha. He tells me, “These guys are my heroes. They have changed the lives of so many in my family and in my country. My dreams are becoming real now. Most Iraqis have been living without any faith. Trust me, this is the truth. Saddam not only killed many people, but tried to kill the souls of the rest of us. We are now coming back; Freedom is like air, and water. We need it to survive; the American’s have brought an abundance of it. I want to give thanks to the American people, thanks to everybody. You have given Iraq a chance to live and grow again.”
Reconstruction is evident and everywhere. It is a success story that we should all be proud of.
Next installment — back to Baghdad, then on to a secret country, on a secret base, with weapons that don’t exist.
Rusty Humphries is a nationally syndicated talk show host of Talk Radio Network. He has been ranked by Talkers Magazine as one of the Top 10 most listened to talk-radio hosts in America. He is currently broadcasting from Iraq and reporting his findings via satellite phone to his audiences back home. Listen to the Rusty Humphries shows to hear these and other exclusives insights from Iraq. Also check out his website for pictures and audio blogs.
1. What word best describes the tone of Rusty’s commentary? Explain your answer.
2. Of the following 3 quotes, which is the most important to you? Why? Be specific.
3. Write at least 2 questions you would want Rusty to answer about his time in Iraq. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org Unique questions will be posted in the “Thoughts from Students” section, and also emailed to Rusty.