In both cases, they came and will likely go without much fanfare for us here. I'm not saying that on the 4th of July we won't attempt to make the day seem somehow different from any other day. But, for the most part, days of any importance pass without much notice.
As for June 30th, a sort of mock Independence day for some Iraqi's, nothing different happened at all. We may not be inside the Baghdad city limits, per se, but we haven't exactly packed up our bags, shut off the lights and closed the door either. We are still here.
In fact, truth be told - there are other days we celebrate that get more attention than national holidays, or operational milestones.
My commander celebrates Thursdays. Thursday is Mexican food day in the DFAC. She has a "Thursday" calendar hanging in her office with every Thursday left in our deployment. Each day displays a different image of a Mexican food cartoon character. Every week on Mexican Food Thursday, she announces to the whole office how excited she is that she gets to mark off another Thursday. For her, every Thursday is like the 4th of July.
Paydays. SPC Johnson and PFC Ward both celebrate these days. It's not a celebration of the pay itself, at their rank that really isn't much to celebrate, although it's not too bad for a young soldier. They celebrate paydays because it signifies that yet another two weeks has passed and that the end of the deployment is one less paycheck closer to home. The 4th of July is great, but two weeks closer to going home is really something to celebrate.
These are just a couple examples of the kinds of days we celebrate here. They are seemingly insignificant, but they become little celebrations that make the day of their occurrence better than any 4th of July, any 4-day weekend, or pagan holiday that comes and goes while we are here on Iraqi soil.
There are a myriad of odd days and events that each of us find cause to celebrate. Here are just a few I have noticed that people get excited about.
0800 and 1500 daily - The time the solid waste truck comes and sucks up the port-a-john contents, hoses down the inside and restocks the toilet paper
Sunday 0900 - The one day a week we don't have to get up early to be to work by 0800 or at PT by 0630
Every Thursday - The day our video magazine is released to media each week
Any day a soldier returns from an extended mission
Cancelled meetings - Any day a meeting is cancelled is cause for at least a 5 minute celebration.
The arrival of care packages from home
As menial as these events may seem, they are banner days for us. They are often the topic of conversation throughout the day - and while we may not be sending up fireworks or broiling some burgers on the barbecue to celebrate the events, they are the moments that make some of our dull days more eventful.
In our little world, July 12th can be just as anticipated and eventful as the 4th of July back in the states.