In the short time that I have been here amidst the squalor, stench, helicopter noise and gunfire, I have already witnessed some sights that were truly inspirational. There have been the interactions with local Iraqis, the informants who have refused to be paid because they just want to help catch terrorists, and the Kurds who introduced me to their children. One instance in the past few days, however, stands out in my mind. I was at our new FOB (Forward Operating Base) the other day getting an intelligence update from one of the units there. - We are part of a group replacing the First Cavalry Division that has units based there. I was standing in the foyer of one of the Cavalry Battalion’s headquarters waiting for a friend to finish up in the latrine so that we could go to the chow hall. The battalion colors were posted next to Old Glory (That’s the American Flag for those of you on the Westside.) in the foyer not far from the entrance. As I was standing there waiting, a squad (9-12 men) of cavalry soldiers walked into the room wearing full gear and gathered around the two flags. They removed their helmets, faced the American Flag, placed their hands on their hearts and recited the pledge of allegiance. After that, they closed into a tight circle and each man put a hand in the center. A Sergeant from the group, presumably the Squad Leader, then led them in a prayer. He prayed for a successful and safe patrol, a successful time while remaining in country, blessings upon the soldiers, upon their replacements, upon all of their families at home and upon the Iraqi people. At the conclusion of the prayer, they all shouted their battalion motto in unison as if starting a football game, put their helmets back on, walked out the door, climbed into their vehicles and drove away. I was awe-struck and humbled to be in the same room. My unit has some big shoes to fill. Of course not every soldier has such a pre-mission routine, but it was one of the cooler things I have seen in 12 years since joining the Army. I have been called idealistic before and always found it irritating because it was always said with a condescending attitude. Two things are now clear to me: One, I have nothing on these soldiers, and many others like them. Two, some condescension is to be relished.