The times they are a changing

I'm sure 2009 is going to be totally new. First, testimony to the fact that I cannot think past the hand in front of my face. Second, I just saw the reruns from yesterdays show from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Boss leading, "This Land is your Land" Beyonce belting out "America the Beautiful" . Every channel in Baghdad is showing clips of Obama's rousing speech of pure Nationalism. I pray that bipartisanship, and never before seen leadership are emerging in my generation, and that the gaps prepare the way for me to shine as a leader in the future.

I will miss 43. I truly treasured every moment serving him. But I will always support the President: Man, woman, democrat, republican, old, young, the President is the Commander in Chief of Country and I will always throw my support 100% behind the face in power.

WOW! I miss DC now and can barely believe I am missing this historic weekend ...

2nd Sunday Update

I had a few problems with my blog, namely time but I'm back in business and will keep you more informed about what is new.

A lot of my friends and colleagues have departed over the past 2 weeks and there's a whole new crew of people who have arrived to fill their vacancies. Including a new Protocol Specialist who is my #2. Her name starts with a Z, so we've bonded already. She's a competent young lady, a year older than me, who has a lot of experience in the U.S. and abroad and it is so nice to have some help!

Work is consuming here. It's hard to mentally check out. I constantly have this panic feeling that if I'm away from the office something is going to catch fire and it will be my head if I'm not here to put it out. This exacerbates stress, as you can imagine, and I hit my limit when Thursday I started feeling under the weather. On Saturday when I was sure something was eating me from the inside out I went to the health unit where I was diagnosed with the "baghdad crud". I felt as disgusting as it sounds. The only prescribeable medicine is Tylenol3 to alleviate discomfort while the body acclimates.

This is something many catch when they first arrive to Baghdad dealing with the climate/country change. My friend suggests that since I am in 7 months into a 6 month contract my body hates me for staying longer.

How long am I staying? This is the question of the day for the past 2 weeks, I might as well have still been at the WHO with everyone asking "what are you doing next"...the answer is question mark.


I will excitedly update you all when I know. I'm going to wait until the dust settles after the Obama Countdown, pray, and see who the new COM is here and what leadership changes bring to life here before making any decisions. Though I am looking forward to the BIG Miller homecoming, so I won't stay away so long Dicky forgets about me!

Also, I have a new address starting February 1, so all postcards should be adressed to
Beth Zentmeyer
Unit 2008 Box 66
APO AE 09870-2008

Embassy Dedication Pictures

0700 Jan-05, I've was up 'til 0200, and at the site by 0600. (you can barely tell, right? ha!)Things are getting in place, and I find my peace in the eye of the storm. If things don't come together, the ceremony will still go on.
The stage of my life ...
(Stage Left to Right) Mr. Christian Lilley, performing the National Anthem a cappella, VIPS: The Honorable Ryan Crocker, Ambassador of the United States of America, His Excellency Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, and The Honorable Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte (Back) Marines Security Guard inaugural flag raising

It turned out to be the most beautiful day of winter thus far. Crystal clear, blue skies; sunny, but still cool 75 degrees, all guests on time. It was storybook like ... decorations included fresh flowers, which retired to the Protocol office post ceremony.

My favorite press release from the President of Iraq's office. It's as if my role--even setting the stage--is contributing, in its own way, to the rebuilding of this country.

The Republic of Iraq President of the Republic Press Office

President of the Republic: American history will be proud to liberate Iraq and to create an independent federal democratic Iraq January 5, 2009 The President of the Republic, Jalal Talabani, that American history will be proud to liberate Iraq and to create a federal democratic Iraq will be independent, for example, the peoples of the Middle and an example and an important factor in the stability and security, peace and coexistence between the peoples in the region.
This came through the participation of His Excellency, on Monday 5-1-2009, officiating at the opening ceremony of the new embassy of the United States of America in Baghdad, which was attended by the American side of the Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and military officials from the multinational forces in Iraq, also attended by the Iraqi side of the senior officials in the government.
Ambassador Crocker, and opened the ceremony, a speech in which he welcomed President Talabani expressed his happiness with him, saying, "It is a historic occasion, and we are pleased with the presence of His Excellency President Talabani and his presence with us and we have the honor to chair the opening ceremony."
Then the Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, the word, thanks to the new President Talabani, for his presence at the ceremony, saying, "Your presence here with us and the presence of other national leaders of Iraq carries many meanings for me personally and to President Bush and Rice and the minister for the people and Government of the United States." Negroponte emphasized in his speech the importance of the role of President Talabani in strengthening the relations between Iraq and the United States, stressing that the President of freedom and a friend of the United States, adding, "I can not imagine a more appropriate share of this historic occasion, you, Mr. President, Negroponte added," We have Christm your fighter and a statesman, for a free Iraq, a sovereign and united, "he said, adding" Besertkm thanks to your courage and perseverance and today, America and Iraq stand side by side, as the London powerful and confident, working together in a spirit of friendship and common purpose, "he said this Today that record a new chapter in relations between the United States and Iraq. Finally, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State by calling on the peoples of both countries to further convergence, cross-links of democracy and trade, education, culture, science and the rule of law and security, expressing his hope to "build a partnership for generations to the great land of Iraq."
It also gave Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, during a speech over pleased to participate in this event, stressing that "the construction of the edifice of civilization was not possible as the existence of the independent federal democratic Iraq is not possible for the courageous decision and the historic President George W. Bush to liberate Iraq from the worst defined by the dictatorship of the history of our people. " His Excellency also stressed, that the people of Iraq will never forget the sacrifices made by the American people for liberation from tyranny. For his part, and before the performance of the U.S. flag-raising ceremony on the new headquarters of the embassy, Ambassador Crocker said the depth of the roots of the relations between Iraq and the United States since the arrival of the first U.S. consul to Iraq in 1889, stressing the need to continue to work to maintain those relationships. Crocker also noted, an agreement to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, the long-term strategic agreement between the two countries, saying in his speech that the United States would honor the commitments made by Iraq in the security agreement. And at the end of the ceremony the Iraqi national anthem and then played the national anthem of the United States and the lifting of the U.S. flag over the headquarters of the embassy. And following the text of the speech delivered by His Excellency the President of the Republic in the opening ceremony of the new headquarters of the U.S. embassy: "In the name of God the Merciful Your Excellencies and happiness Negroponte, Ryan Crocker, Gen. Odierno and other loved ones of friends the Americans present and honored guests O holy ceremony I am pleased to participate in the opening of the new embassy of the United States in the new Iraq, democratic Iraq, the independent federal parliamentary system.
The construction of this edifice of civilization was not possible as the existence of the independent federal democratic Iraq is possible if the historical and courageous decision of His Excellency President George W. Bush to liberate Iraq from the worst dictatorship known in the history of our people, pointless and destructive wars, dictatorship and mass graves of hundreds of thousands of citizens, bellowed in a dictatorship and innumerable riches of Iraq and destroyed the generations of the best of our men. Therefore, the Iraqi people in the ancient civilization decent and moral and humanitarian values, high Msaaadatkm will never forget my friends, and the Americans will have appreciated the sacrifices of the people and Chdaikm In Karim highly values its friendship with him. Especially if these sacrifices are part of the glorious tradition of the great American people, who made enormous sacrifices to deter aggression and tyranny in World War I and II and the Pacific and in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kurdistan. This edifice, which Hidtamoh not sure of the embassy, but was told of the deep friendship between the peoples of Iraq and the U.S. as well. It is therefore very much hope that the embassy will play a role in the desired goal and the development and strengthening and improving and expanding the US-Iraqi relations at all levels of political, economic, oil and military, cultural and technological, and others. And workers will all support and attribution of the Presidency to achieve these noble goals.
And let us express the certainty that American history is also proud to liberate Iraq and to create a federal democratic Iraq will be independent, for example, a model for the peoples of our East and an important factor in the stability and security, peace and coexistence between the peoples in the region. As you know Iraq is a rich people and large amounts of wealth and civilization, it is therefore qualified to play the role expected from the Orient. Dear friends, dear Americans
Congratulate you on behalf of Iraq, the construction of the monument and the opening of the new Embassy of goodwill, friendship and cooperation in all fields.
Bye and God's mercy and blessings. "

OMG It's 2009!

The transition from 2008 to 2009 was highly eventful in Baghdad. On the 28th we received word from the Iraqis that they wanted the palace back on the 1st. Originally the plan has been to vacate the palace but there was a grace period until February. The Grace period was rescinded on the 28th and it became an all hands on deck, mad dash to vacate the Palace.

On the 31st, the Ambassador came and the marines lowered the flag in a close hold ceremony.

As I left the palace I took a pause and looked back. I remembered leaving my last place of employment and my friend prompted me to turn around and take one last look at The White House as we drove off of the ellipse.

I stopped the armored suburban and said, this is it, look back and take it in. There was too much emotion in my throat and body to even begin to describe it on paper. It was one chapter closing and the turn of the page to a blank book begging for a new beginning.

What this new beginning holds, no one knows. Will the fragile peace we have come to enjoy continue? When Iraqis man the checkpoints of the Green Zone will terror and corruption increase threats?

After the sobering ceremony I toiled away a few more hours planning the Embassy Dedication Ceremony to mark the turn of the page at our New Embassy Compound. Guest list of 1400. Visiting VIP from the states kept us from extending invitations until 48hrs prior to the event! I was busy.

BUT took a break to celebration NYE!

Delicious, sit down dinner at Blackhawk with good friends, Arabic food and dancing, followed by a count down at the Marine House.

0600 on January 1, 2009, the Iraqis took they keys to the Republican Palace.

Nothing exploded, the sun was out and we grouped for a game of football on an open patch of dirt.


I took so long updating these pictures of my R&R I didn't want them archived in 2008.

Sheep. The Bedouin is tending the flock.

Photo op on the way down below the fault line to the The Dead Sea.

Pool side at a Sea side resort.

Me bobbing like a cork in the Dead Sea.

Sunset over the Dead sea watching the lights come on in Jerusalem.