Monday, January 25, 2016

What the destruction of the 1400 yr old St Elijah Monastery meant to not only Christians ...

but to all peace-loving inheritors of our planet's history, heritage and culture. 
Bill Nemitz at PressHerald
The Islamic State destroyed St. Elijah's in Mosul, but not the ideals that built it 1,400 years ago.
For modern civilization, the news last week was shocking: Satellite imagery has confirmed that ISIS forces destroyed a 1,400-year-old monastery not long after they took over the city of Mosul in northern Iraq in June 2014.

But for a battalion of Maine soldiers who saw the pictures on TV, blinked, and looked again, this was personal.

“When I first looked at it, I said, ‘No, that can’t be,’ ” said Maj. (Ret.) David Sivret, who served back in 2004-2005 as chaplain for the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion in Mosul. “And then I saw that in fact it was.”

It was called Dair Mar Elia, or St. Elijah’s Monastery. I first saw it in December 2004 while photographer Greg Rec and I were embedded with the 133rd at Forward Operating Base Marez on the outskirts of Mosul.

Then-Sgt. Dan Landers of Bangor, eager to show us the unseen reaches of the sprawling base, had commandeered a Humvee for the afternoon and told us to hop in.

A few minutes down the bumpy dirt road (Landers’ daily running route), we came upon the ancient compound of stone walls, a chapel, a sanctuary and two dozen other rooms.
I remember commenting on how pristine it all seemed, especially given the immediate surroundings.

Just outside the monastery lay the “boneyard,” a ghostly collection of rusting Iraqi tanks and other military vehicles left over from the 2003 U.S. invasion and, before that, the war between Iraq and Iran.

Beyond that, the fields were still littered with unexploded ordnance – when a grass fire raced through earlier that year, soldiers from the 133rd had watched from their rooftops as mortars went off willy-nilly. “It was like fireworks out there for an entire day,” chortled Landers.....

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