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The Hanoudi Letter

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During the third week of last December we were visited by our venerable friend Jacki Lyden who was working on a program about the Iraqi refugees who had arrived after the recent war in Michigan, she stayed with us for several days during which she came with me to the hospital trying find out herself what was happening to our son whom she knew from the early days of the war, when she went back, NPR aired a program few days after Christmas  during which our friend Jacki said;

At the William Beaumont Hospital, a giant complex in Royal Oak, Michigan, Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi bends over his comatose son, Nazar, kept alive on life-support systems these past eight years. Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi was a prominent eye surgeon in Baghdad, but came to Michigan seeking care for his son, Nazar. In 2004, an American soldier accidentally shot Nazar, leaving him in a vegetative state.

Hanoudi, a prominent eye surgeon in Baghdad, would never have come to America but for this. The 77-year-old and his wife, Firyal, are worn out and ill from the hours spent at their son's side in the nursing home. After the shooting, Hanoudi says, an American official visited them. "He came one day and saw us at home in Baghdad. And when he left, he said, 'I'd like you to write me something as a kind of reminder or a report or something. Hanoudi later wrote the official, saying “We are waiting for a miracle. But there was no miracle," he says.

Hanoudi isn't angry at the shooter. He's not even bitter that he was forced to leave his life in Baghdad for a nursing home in Michigan. He is, however, deeply angry about the war. "In the end, the war proved to have been something crazy. Stupid, What for? Why did the Americans go there?" he says; there were no weapons of mass destruction. Five, six thousand kids were killed, thousands were injured, Hundreds of vegetative cases which I have seen myself in Walter Reed Hospital.

He says. "Americans. Young ones. What for?"

Just days ago, Nazar died.

That part of the Hanoudis' story is, at last, finished. Their hopes now rest on their other children and Nazar's young daughter whom Nazar never met.

War doesn't claim its victims all at once; sometimes it takes years.