By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Addis
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 2, 2009 - The national symbol of Iraq was raised over the governance center here Dec. 30 symbolizing the transition of control of a security station from the coalition forces back to the Iraqi government. U.S. soldiers and local Iraqi leaders attended the ceremony at Joint Security Station Sab al Bour to witness the historic event.
The flag was raised by Thamir Amud, Sab al Bour Nahia chairman, a man who spent 13 years in prison under Saddam Hussein's regime for refusing to join the Baath Party, an Arab nationalist movement that gained power under Hussein's rule.
Amud raised the flag slowly, as his eyes welled up with tears of joy. "This is one of the proudest days of my life," he said. "This is truly a great occasion as it symbolizes a new beginning and the end to many years of depression."
In honor of the event, Radhe Jaffar, mayor of Sab al Bour Nahia, and Amud buried significant items in a time capsule beneath the flagpole. Among the items buried were CDs with pictures of Nahia and Iraqi security forces, leaders and memorandums telling of local events and accomplishments of the new Iraqi government, as well as 15 9mm rounds -- one for each block in Sab al Bour.
"The 9 mm rounds being buried represent the end of violence in Sab al Bour," Jaffar said. "It also represents the fact that we are ready to leave the bad times buried in the past."
Army Capt. Dan Digati, Troop B commander, said the event was fitting to mark the Iraqi government's improvements in the area.
"Today's ceremony was certainly a tear jerker," Digati said. "Thamir and Radhe have seen Sab al Bour at its worst, and for them to be a part of this transition means so much to not only them but to myself and the men and women of Bounty Hunter Troop."
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Addis serves in the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)