By Army Sgt. Jason Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service
July 10, 2008 - Summer days in Baghdad often rival the hottest days around the globe, and until recently, many residents of central Baghdad's Karkh district did not have a place they could visit to escape from the heat. But a cooperative effort between Zawra Park officials and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team led to the July 5 reopening the public swimming pool in the district's park.
"This is a great day for the citizens of Baghdad," Salah Abou El Lail, Zawra Park director, said. "This pool will be a great and enjoyable destination for many Baghdad families. Families already enjoy visiting the park and the zoo here, and the pool will be fun for everyone."
The project to refurbish the swimming pool complex began more than four months ago and cost almost $500,000 to complete.
Temperatures in Iraq regularly surpass 120 degrees during the merciless summer. But for the soldiers who patrol the streets in central Baghdad, the pool is a welcome scene that will help the people they're here to protect.
"This makes me proud," said Army Lt. Col. Fred Wintrich, a Union City, Texas, native, and executive officer for 2nd Brigade Combat Team. "Everyone worked hard together to reopen this pool for the Iraqi citizens."
The pool is a good example of what cooperation among local officials, Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces can accomplish, Wintrich said. "We've helped to improve the security of the region so that the local residents could enjoy a more peaceful community to raise their families," he added.
During the opening day's festivities, children and young adults alike swam and splashed around in the water with large smiles, knowing that the pool signified more than just a new recreational activity in the already popular Zawra Park.
(Army Sgt. Jason Thompson serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)