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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Hannah Jenkins
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Hi! My name is Hannah Jenkins, and I am one of the copy editors here at the North Wind. I am a sophomore at NMU, and I love all things writing and editing-related. I am proud to be a part of this great...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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NMU soldiers speak on experiences at war

A group of soldiers discussed changes happening in Iraq to a gathering of NMU students and ROTC members last Friday.

“The Ground Truth,” a presentation by NMU’s Army ROTC Wildcat Battalion, was held so students on campus could hear stories from soldiers. The main focus was for ROTC members to hear first-hand accounts from soldiers who have been to Iraq.

Maj. Chris Mahaffey came to Northern and discussed what is going on in Iraq. A question and answer session followed via satellite with his class located in Fort Knox.

Changes are happening in Iraq to improve the country’s security and the people’s way of life which often times isn’t looked at by the media, Mahaffey said.

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“Unfortunately, the good stuff we do is not really, as we would say, ‘sexy,'” he said. “So the major news [outlets] don’t really pick that up and there are a lot of good things that we do.”

Capt. Joseph Harrison said the media portrays a lot of the negative aspects of war because it’s what sells.

“I hear about the number of suicide bombings still going on in Baghdad, but you know if it bleeds, it leads,” Harrison said.

Soldiers are building schools in Iraq, making road improvements and constructing government buildings, said Capt. Michael Kay.

“[Rebuilding Iraq] is a step-by-step process, and unfortunately for those who aren’t patient it’s not a quick one,” Kay said.

He also said a lot of soldiers go into Iraq trained for combat and end up having to do tasks unrelated to that, such as reconstruction of buildings or roads.

“What’s amazing is you’re looking at guys that, prior to this, were trained on how to fire a tank and how to run around with a rifle. And now they’ve [been taught] how to tap wells,” he said.

During the presentation, Harrison mentioned the change in currency in Iraq. Iraqis are experiencing a transition from their old currency, dinars, which have Saddam’s face on them, to ones without, Harrison said. There is a lack of publicity covering these changes in Iraq, he said.

“One of the big things that you see over and over is no one talks about the amazing transition of their monetary system and their markets and how they are doing surprisingly well and they’re surprisingly vibrant,” he said. “You don’t see their economy collapsing; it’s actually getting stronger, and it’s getting done day in and day out by soldiers and by hard-working Americans helping [Iraqis] take the reigns of their own government.”

To judge what’s going on in Iraq based on only the things seen in Baghdad isn’t accurate, Harrison said.

“Baghdad is a beast unto itself. Look at New York City and Washington D.C. Take a look at the murder rates in their demographic, it wouldn’t be fair to judge America as a whole based on the murder rates in Washington D.C.,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a fair evaluation to say that the progress in Iraq can be measured by the heartbeat of Baghdad, either.”

The people in Iraq are growing more accustomed to the help Americans are providing and are learning to trust and assist the soldiers, Mitchell said.

“What we’ve seen over the past couple years is the Iraqi population may not be on our side, but they understand that we respect them and that we’re training them with dignity and they are in return providing us with information on the enemy,” Mitchell said.

Soldiers are getting killed in Iraq and this scares Americans into thinking that the military needs to get out of the war, he said.

“The insurgent kills the soldier, to send that casket home to affect you, to make you pull us out,” Mahaffey added.

While being away from family is hard and the job of a soldier isn’t the easiest, it is something that these people still feel a desire to do, Mahaffey said.

“We love this country so much we would do whatever you told us to do and we would do it as best as we can,” Mahaffey said.

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