By MND-C PAOSeptember 1, 2008
BAGHDAD - The 10th Mountain Division Band performed a joint concert with the Seddah School District Band during a ceremony celebrating the arts and education in Seddah, Iraq Aug. 23.
The concert took place in Seddah City Park, where the 10th Mtn. Div. Band joined the Iraqi band comprised of six school-aged boys and two adult singers, a keyboardist and violinist.
After only one rehearsal together, the 10th Mtn. Div. Band and Iraqi group performed two songs, the Iraqi National Anthem and a nationalistic song of Iraq. Despite the difference in languages, the two groups found common ground in the music they shared.
"It was a little tough to get going at first, but the music got rid of the language barrier," said Staff Sgt. Christy Knodt, an oboist with the 10th Mtn. Div. Band, from Racine, Wis.
The partnership between the people of Seddah and Soldiers of 2nd Platoon, C Co., 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division made this celebration possible.
"Ten months ago, we would have never even considered asking the band to come down to Seddah City Park to put on a community concert," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Williams, 2nd Platoon leader. When his platoon first began operations in Seddah 10 months ago, the local citizens were not welcoming. A group of local men followed the platoon through town, people closed their doors, and no one would speak to them.
Today, the scene in Seddah was just the opposite. Through the persistent work of 2nd Platoon and the Seddah City Council, Seddah held a celebration for approximately 400 of its citizens; a celebration that will not soon be forgotten.
"They were obviously happy we were there, coming up to us and welcoming us," said Knodt. "You could tell everyone was in a great mood - everyone was happy; everyone was dancing: men, women and children, all out together at night, for one of the first times ever in this community."
The celebration was bittersweet for the Soldiers of 2nd Platoon. Five months ago, they lost a valuable member of their team. Sgt. Jevon K. Jordan, 32, of Norfolk, Virginia, died March 29 from wounds suffered after his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device six days earlier in Abu Jassim, Iraq.
"It really tested our team. We were emotionally defeated and could have very easily given up," said Williams. But Williams and 2nd Platoon did not give up.
Their partnership with the citizens of Seddah and surrounding communities has produced improved governance, economic recovery, and a secure community, all of which set the stage for Saturday's celebration.