Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq, and I began the morning preparing for our Special Report, as President Bush addressed the country from the White House. I thought it was striking how all the networks — and newspapers as well — were reporting flatly "Iraq: 4 Years Later," language that reflects a lack of accomplishment there. Americans did not expect the war to last this long, nor did they think it would cost as many lives as it has, our poll showed. As we begin the fifth year of the war, it'll be interesting to see how the war continues to play out on the campaign trail, too.
Allen Pizzey, currently reporting from Iraq, had an interesting perspective about what it's like to be there four years after the war started. He took a ride with the 410th Military Police, based in Camp Victory on the edge of the Baghdad International Airport, and reported on our courageous soldiers who look every day for snipers, and watch for IEDs, and potholes.
One of the great things about being a journalist is the interesting people you meet. I had dinner Monday night with an incredibly inspiring person, John Wood. He used to work at Microsoft as Director of Business Development, but left his position to enrich (get it?) his life in a way that money couldn't. In 1999, John founded Room to Read, a nonprofit that builds schools and libraries for children throughout Asia. There are nearly 1 billion illiterate people in the world, and his goal is to help over 10 million children achieve literacy by 2010. It might seem like a lofty goal, or too great a dream even, but John has been really successful and is so passionate about his mission, that I know he will accomplish it.
The following night I had a fun dinner with two old friends: Painter Stephen Hannock and his daughter Georgia. Stephen and I met through mutual friends. Not only is he a great guy, but he's very talented. In fact, you might recognize his painting "The Oxbow, After Church, After Cole, Flooded, Green Light – 1999," which is currently hanging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—for any of you in the New York area, or visiting!
I'm always impressed with nonprofit groups working hard on important issues. I attended a luncheon to benefit one of those groups, Girls Learn International, which involves American students in the international effort for universal girls' education. I found out about Girls Learn after my daughter got involved with them through some girls at her high school. At the luncheon Wednesday, I had the pleasure of introducing a young woman, Sadiqa Basiri, who was forced to leave her hometown at a young age and lived in refugee camps in Pakistan. When she was able to return home, she began educating some young women in her own home and has founded several organizations that will help shed light on the situation of these young girls in Afghanistan. Her story is really powerful, and just a glimpse of life in the region.
Have a great weekend.