March 24th, 2008
03:59 PM ET
13 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. Dallas

    And McCain wants this to continue? What is he thinking?

    March 24, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Bill, Sacramento

    The troops are GREAT!! What a wonderful bunch of courageous men and women to do what they do.

    But, they have done the task they were asked to do – now it is time for the Iraq 'Government' to do its job and allow the troops back home where they should be treated as heros, every single one of them.


    March 24, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. chris

    Obama covered up and hid from us his racial pastor and church. You can not be president and be a racist.

    Obama made an excuss for blacks hating whites and then feed it to the next generation by allowing his children and others to be subjected to a hate a race sermon, by Wright.

    As Dr. martin luther King put it. "we need not drink from the cup of bitterness and hatered."

    in the civil war it was the white man fighting the white man to free slaves. how dare they preach hate to the very people who fought to free them. i never had any part of slavery. it was made illegal by the white man around 150 years ago and brought up again with equal rights 45 years ago. way past time for the black people to get over their bitterness toward the white.
    if Obama can not face this then he needs to go

    Clinton\Lewis 2008

    March 24, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |

    Good for you, Wolf. To remember our troops and pray that they
    can come home safe. And for the fallen soldiers, "they shall be
    remembered' always!

    March 24, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |

    Wolf, Can you run for Pres. on an independent ticket?
    I will vote for you, Wolf!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    March 24, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  6. Idiots

    It the Idiots Bush, Cheny, Mccain and Hillary's to blame. How come these idiots never send their children to fight for the war. America wake up and say not to this idiots.

    March 24, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Mike Delaney


    No way should you have allowed Carville to spew the garbage he was just spewing. If he wants to use the analogy of a basketball game ending early, you should have replied that no one would support changing the rules in the middle of a game just because the wrong team was winning. CNN should not have Carville on its staff. It is too much of a conflict of interest.


    March 24, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. gam

    knew you wouldn't print my comment

    March 24, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. John

    Bring the soldiers Home.It is Easter here.

    March 24, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. joanna

    Wolf Blitzer of Gulf War fame!

    March 24, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Медведев

    Four thousand equals the number of hours Hillary has lied awake at night consumed with the guilt and shame of signing off on those soldiers lives.

    March 24, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Lee A from texas

    I keep them all in my heart and in my mind and wish for them to do thier duty and then come home as safe as they left. We owe these brave men and women a debt we can never really repay.

    They go where we tell them and they do what we ask them. they are some of the finest americans we will ever know.

    March 24, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Chris, Middletown, CT

    He has that beaten look...that one where he said "if I support Hillary, she will let me be the press secretary....and I will have a cushy job like George Stephanapolis" – too bad for you Wolf....throwing her softball questions wasn't enough to put her over the top....people want change....and Hillary isn't it

    March 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. RealityKing

    There is no greater love than to die for your brother. -Jesus

    March 24, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. jennyM

    I think it is sad that only when we hit a landmark number that most in this country forget we are in a war that we should have never been in .

    Most people do not have to sacrifice one thing for this war. Although your children and grandchildren will when they have to pay for it.

    3 trillion when you count caring for 30,000 injured many of whom need lifelong care now .

    And people argue over what some Pastor said ? Who cares? We should focus on how to get out of Iraq, and fix our economy, our schools and infratstructure.

    March 24, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Jones in California

    Wolf, i am tired of hearing this Rev. Wright nonsense, can we hear more substance from your party's discussion....

    March 24, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Bill Enuff

    How about the Joseph McCarthy comment.....Wolfe?

    Pretty out of line uh? You have a selective memory when it comes to this stuff.

    How about the tasteless comments made about the stain on the blue dress? Selective memory again.

    THIS is the reason John McCain will be the President and people will continue to die in Iraq.

    March 24, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Backlash

    Never leave your brother in arms, fight to win, and win to fight...

    USS San Jose AFS 7
    USS Alamo LSD 33
    USS Wichita AOR 1 Remember the USS Stark FFG 31.....USS Stark hit by Iraqi missiles, 37 sailors die May 17 in 1987

    Operation Just Cause
    USS Philippine Sea CG 58

    Michael Scott Speicher was shot down during the Persian Gulf War

    You may be gone but in the hearts of those that hear your plane hit the sound will live in our hearts forever...

    The price of freedom comes at a high price, Continued Freedom comes at an even higher price.

    March 24, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Willy


    March 24, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Marc

    No Bill Enuff, McCain would become the President because Hillary cannot be trusted, and Obama is black. That is the truth.

    March 24, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. Aliou

    to anyone who likes war, let that one american who is going to the front by love of death be you.

    let those who are forced to go come home now.

    Let those who want to make omelettes with someone else's eg do it with theirs.

    March 24, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Aliou

    Wolf, never mind, Obama will bring them home.

    March 24, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. China for McCain or Hillary

    I am from China, please vote for McCain or Hillary, because they will take america to another war & America will loose trillions of dollars again. I am happy to see america loose money in the war & happy to see you americans are fighting among yourselves over this election. Please don't vote for Obama, because he will unite your country & improve your economy. Please vote for McCain or Hillary, because if you are divided, you will fail as a Nation,.

    March 24, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Bayou Joe

    The reason John McCain will be President is because we need a commander in chief that understands war, because he has been in it Knows how to deal with other governments from a position of strenght. Will not undermine our military efforts. Has the age and wisdom to direct this country through the next phase. When he says we will be in Iraq and the Middle East for the next 100 years, he is absolutely right. We have been in Europe and Japan for the last 60 years and have no plans of leaving. To withdraw from the Middle East and Asia would be disastrous not only for our Nation but also for our allies. What we do need is for other Free (Democratic) Nations to do their part. This they have failed to do. Germany, France, Japan need to pay for their own protection and stop relying on our armed forces and MY money to protect them. This also goes for Canada, another country that gets a free ride at our expense.

    March 24, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Margie


    You are really stretching. So now, not only is Barack's pastor a racist, but now Obama is a racist (with a white mother, grandmother, etc.). You are wrong Chris, and obviously had poor history teachers.

    Blacks and other races are not bitter, we just hate ignorance.

    Obama 08

    March 24, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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