March 24th, 2008
03:59 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Remembering Easter in Iraq

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Blitzer: My trip to Iraq was intense and powerful."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three years ago today, I was in Iraq. I went around the country – from Baghdad to Basra, from Falluja to Mosul and Balad. I had flown there with the then commander of U.S. Forces in the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid.

I remember everything I saw because it was so intense and powerful. The images were amazing. But some things continue to stand out, especially at this time of the year.

I vividly remember watching hundreds of troops pray at a Sunday Easter Mass service in Baghdad, and their prayers were intense. The military chaplain’s words were deeply religious. Watching the men and women pray took on a whole new meaning for me that day. So many of the troops later told me they were praying simply to be able to survive the war in one piece. They were praying for their fellow troops. They didn’t want to die in Iraq. They didn’t want to be severely injured.

When I was there with Gen. Abizaid three years ago, more than 1,500 American troops had been killed in Iraq. Now, the number has reached 4,000.

I was thinking about that prayer service this past Easter weekend. Most of those troops I saw in Baghdad that day are probably home right now. But some of them are also no doubt back in Iraq serving a second or even third tour of duty. The soldiers have 15 month rotations in Iraq though the Pentagon is hoping to reduce that soon to 12 months. These men and women who serve are all volunteers and their sacrifices are enormous.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Iraq • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. therealist

    In case you missed it, the war is over. Lets choose not to lose the peace now..

    March 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Democratic Pastor

    Time for democrats to unite. Time for democrats to stop fighting between ourselves. We all know that Obama has won twice as many states as Hillary, and won almost a million popular vote than Hillary. Mathematically hillary cannot win the nomination against the will of the people. Even the big states that Hillary claims to have won, it's not a huge margin. The media is trying to divide the democrats based on issues like race & comments from Obama's former Pastor. I am a pastor myself, I am white, 45 years old, What Obama's pastor said was completely true, he was referring to the injustice America has commited in killing of innocent people. We all talk about 4000 american troops killed. Is anyone, as a christian, thinking about the millions of Iraqi civilians killed in this war ? The Media is silent on these things. If Jesus Christ was here right now, he will say the same things as Obama's former pastor said. It doesn't mean Obama's former pastor is not patriotic, from a pastor's standpoint, I understand his words. The media should stop being a negative propaganda. We all know that Hillary, McCain & Bush all were responsible for this war. The only true candidate I respect is Sen. Obama. We as a nation fought this war for no reason. Iraq had no WMDs, it was not responsible for 9/11. It's a huge mistake commited by our current administration. It's the responsibility of the news media to bring this information out to the public. We have killed almost one million people in Iraq so far. Every Christian out there, think for yourself, is this what the Christ preached us ? God Bless you all

    March 24, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Vig

    George Bush should be impeaced. Tell that to Nancy Pelosi whose holding hands with the Dali Lama while turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed in the name of America.

    March 24, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. California Viewer

    Wolf, why can't Hillary Clinton speak for herself, for goodness sake? Obama gets wall-to-wall, live coverage of his speeches, but all we see of her is the occasional two-minute out-of-context snippet. What is up with that??????

    March 24, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Brannon

    Thanks for this piece. I'm glad someone still remembers the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who're stuck in the sandbox over another holiday, with the cacophony of the soap opera election season going on.
    Also, I'm really getting tired of the off-topic political shilling being done in these comments. Seriously, CNN. Enforce your own comment policy or get someone who will. This feature used to be relevant and interesting, but now the only purpose it serves is to provide a bullhorn for fanatics to rave into without check.

    March 24, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |

    I hate Hillary and Bill.

    Just think if the smear ads, "SWIFT BOAT ADS" had not worked
    we would have had Kerry as Pres. instead of Bush. I did not
    vote for Bush. I voted for Kerry.

    Just, think how different our world would have been folks, makes
    me want to sit down and cry for our country.


    March 24, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |

    Wolf, could you do a documentary on the good things that Rev Wright
    did? Was'nt he a U.S. Marine? served as a nurse? to Lyndin Johnson?


    March 24, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Republican Austin TX


    Am watching you as you tirelessly make the case for Hillary with regard to the delegate count, it's amusing. I mean, the media counted her out before, which i agree was a mistake. But there are realities to be faced now. First, because the delegates pick the nominee, just as the electoral vote picks the president, her numbers are'nt adding up and i frankly agree with POLITICO; it's over. Secondly, James Carville is wrong to think that the 8% of the remaining democrats will all vote for Hillary if they were to vote. Last i checked, Obama had supporters too and most of them either voted uncommited or never voted at all. Lastly, i agree with JACK, Obama won texas...and just as Nancy pelosi and Howard dean said, it's a delegates race...and WE the voters are watching really closely.

    By the way, your argument about electability is shallow...because why is'nt she winning now?

    March 24, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Connie from San Antonio, Texas

    Since it seems like Clinton cannot get a fair shake from you all and Obama is your god and cannot do anything wrong, why don't some of you compare statements in Obama's book with the services you showed on Wright. You may be surprised on the connection of Wright, Obama, and Farricon. If it looks like a duck, quack like a duck, then probably, it is a duck. I'm not for neither, but if you all put Obama into the whitehouse, you will be sorry. I used to watch your program all of the time but not anymore because of your bias position for Obama. All of these people whose now supporting Obama were losers, they're only trying to get a position if he wins and he's too stupid to see through that. But, of course, that's lack of experience and judgment which most of you don't require to run the largest office in the country. We jumped the gun on Bush also, remember?

    March 24, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Gavin

    Thanks for the interesting read, Wolf.

    I am hoping this Democratic Nomination will mark the beginning of the end of the Bush tragic saga...

    I'm pleased we have a fighter in Hillary Rodham Clinton !

    March 24, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Very Concerned American

    I remember the first Gulf war. I thought that was a mistake but this brings both wars to the forefront.

    How very sad it is to be away from family during the holidays.

    Visualizing 4000 men on a field and then seeing them die for a good cause would be upsetting. I just hope and pray that these 4000 men died for a good cause.

    March 24, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. Tex

    Wolf, good thing Reverend Carville wasn't preaching to the troops three years ago at Easter when you were there. His unChristian comments about Governor Richardson are pure bile and meaness.

    March 24, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. James

    Please step down, Obama.
    Hillary will be the only candidate i will vote for.

    March 24, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. gene

    while hillary was voting for the war barack was working for rezco and spewing hatred at his so called church then comes out lying like a dog TYPICAL YES

    March 24, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Veterans for Obama

    Let's not have another 4,000. If they would also print the casualties, I think more people would want this disaster to end. There are tens of thousands of soldiers who have lost limbs, hundreds who have been burned beyond recognition (just think about that for a moment), and countless more who will have the scars of battle on their conscience. War is hell, and anyone who doesn't have areal stake in it should not be weighing in on why we should keep sacrificing our young to this moronis meat grinder.

    We don't even know what "winning" would look like in Iraq. Let's leave and let Iran stabilize the region, would that be so horrible? Hospitals are shutting down in the US while our guys are risking their lives to protect the construction of new hospitals in baghdad. The Gov. of Iraq has a surplus while ours is running an historical deficit. Let's eat humble pie, and end this.

    And if anyone talks to me about patriotism, you don't know what true patriotism is. Quit hiding behind yout lapel pins and do something that will HELP America. That's Patriotism!

    March 24, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. HP Boston

    War is hell! There is not one good thing to say about war.

    LIFE is more sacred than OIL and rich men using young lives as throw away toys!

    I am sick of the insanity and the evil bush and cheney who kill our sons and daughters and then say, so!

    March 24, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  17. Don Fitzgerald

    I sure hope that President Bush doesn't have any trouble sleeping, especially after the 4000th death involving our Armed Forces in Iraq. A war that was absolutely unnecessary, falsely presented and presented with false bravado, taunting. History will look upon this presidency as the lowest point in the caliber of person to hold that office. Unremarkable is an overstatement of this incompetent's record. I hope all of the voters who voted for him and his sidekick will think twice and examine their choice for President with a great deal of more care. It does matter what caliber of the person that we choose.

    March 24, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. Independent-Latina-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    Sadly this war will continue, there is no way the US can pull out, even if we do have a president Barrack Obama in the White House (if the Clintons don't finish destroying him!).

    Its a shame that we are stuck there, the worst is how this war will bankrupt our nation........ that IS Bush's legacy.

    OBAMA 08!

    March 24, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. GL


    You are correct. They volunteered. Having done so, to complain about the duration of their deployment is as unpatriotic as not supporting them. No one held a gun to their heads to sign the papers. It is not all Gi Bills, one weekend a month, college tuition, and three square meals a day. On occasion, when you volunteer, you will be asked to follow through with your committment.

    March 24, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
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