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Put a stop to it
15 years after the Iran-Iraq war, I have drunk the sweet elixir of forgiveness

October 8, 2003
The Iranian

He drank the sweet elixir of martyrdom 22 years ago, and he died. He tied a grenade around his waist 22 years ago, and he died. He was thirteen years old when he slid his childlike body under the enemy tank, and he died. In 1986, a stamp was issued in his name, but he is dead. He looks down upon us from posters and murals all across our country's cities, but he is dead.

Right or wrong, he didn't sit on the sidelines and take a worthless position of neutrality. Right or wrong, he was asked to grow up and enter manhood a decade or more earlier than any boy should have to. Right or wrong, he was one of many who lied about his age in order to enlist in the war effort. Right or wrong, he fought for our country aside hundreds of thousands of others. Many died along with our little boy, and they remain nameless, right or wrong...

Love him or hate him, Iran's leader at the time had something of great emotional value to say of this young soldier, of this little man, "The value of his little heart is greater than could be described by hundreds of tongues and hundreds of pens..." He also should have added a million keystrokes on the computer.

I had heard the name Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh in many books and war movies when I was younger, but I never truly knew his story until I read an article about the twenty-first commemoration of his death on Now, I know a little. Now, I want to know more. Not only about Fahmideh, but about the ones whose deaths were not commemorated through the years.

From what the American history books tell me, nearly 1,000,000 of our soldiers died. From what I read in the news, we are still exchanging the bodies of our war prisoners with Iraq. From what I hear, there are men and women and children still in our hospitals today, dying little by little, of the after-effects of Iraqi chemical warfare. Living a daily death. A cycle of pain that never ends, heaviness of breathing, bodily pain, scars; longlasting reminders of the bombings and the tanks and the flying shrapnel.

So what does this have to do with us? Us, meaning those who were merely toddlers when all the horrors were taking place. It's ironic that I might have been taking my first steps at about the same time that men who were fighting for my country were losing their limbs and their lives. What do I do now, 15 years after the end of the fighting?

There are things best not remembered, but I am glad to have read the article I did about Fahmideh. I am glad that I my mind was refreshed in the history department. All around the case the go to war with Iraq today is the Iran issue. Americans like to quote it and analyze it and repeat it over and over and over. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iranians. Let's give them a hand. They finally let it out. But where were they twenty years ago? Why did no one in power say a word and why did no one take a stand?

I am Iranian. I used to feel that if there was an attack, it would be justified. It would be the perfect revenge for two decades ago. But now I know. I have drunk the sweet elixir of forgiveness. I have tasted from the cup of peace. I have found the answer to that question of: What do we do? We put a stop to it. Whatever is past is past. The future begins with us and the choices we make today. If today I stand for peace, if today, my heart cries out to Iraqis, maybe tomorrow they will stand for me. The world turns in strange ways. What was up, falls down, and vice versa. If only someone had taken a stand so long ago...

Think of all the little boys who would have grown to be great men...

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By Assal Badrkhani





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