By Army 2nd Lt. Cait Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 4, 2008 - The day was bright, and so were the smiles on the faces of the families and children at the Nov. 25 opening of Nahwaran School in northwestern Baghdad's Ghazaliya district. With more than 100 people in attendance, the event began with Iraqi police and soldiers joining teachers in handing out backpacks, notebooks and pencils to the students. Members of the local "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group also were on hand.
The talk among the Ghazaliya citizens was of the growth and changes that have taken place, allowing such a happy event to occur. Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers at the event shared that sentiment.
"The ceremony went really well," said Army 1st Lt. Thomas Wilson, a fire support officer with the 1st Infantry Division's 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. "It was great to see the Iraqi police Iraqi army and the Sons of Iraq come together for a great event that shows the movement forward in this community."
The troopers of the 5-4th Cavalry Regiment are responsible for security in the Ghazaliyah district. The unit's leaders attended the ceremony and observed the festivities. Speakers at the event talked of the progress already completed in making Ghazaliya a safe place to live and of the newly thriving community's potential.
Not long ago, they noted, the building now housing Nahwaran School was an unsafe and dilapidated shell. But with the diligent efforts of Iraqi security forces, the area has become secure enough to develop, the speakers said.
This school, they added, is only one part -- albeit a very significant part -- of the neighborhood's beautification. The people at the opening ceremony were excited about the progress the school embodies.
"I was impressed by the facilities that the school now has, to include a computer room. It is a model for the standard of what schools should be in Ghazaliya," said Army Maj. Thomas Downey, civil affairs team chief for the 5-4th Cavalry Regiment.
(Army 2nd Lt. Cait Smith serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.)
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