June 8th, 2017
This would be one of my last days in the field. As an ambulance driver I had driven this road dozens of times. It is the highway that connects Baghdad to Mosul.
On this particular trip to the front, we stopped to pass out the few water bottles we had to the last of a large group of people walking past us. This little girl had been under ISIS control along with her family for years. Today, they were freed. No longer under the bondage of a suppressive regime, the gratitude they felt in their hearts exploded when they saw us.
As I passed out the water, this small girl ran up to me in the hot sun. She already had a water in her hand and was not asking for another one. With the biggest smile she stopped and reached her hands up and tenderly hugged my neck and thanked me in Arabic. I laughed, returned her hug, and started to tear up as she continued on to safety with her family.
I was deeply touched. Every word of gratitude I received from each Iraqi was special. But this one stands out as the most special to me.