By Sgt. Rebekah Malone, 225th Eng. Bde. PAO, MND-BFebruary 25, 2009
BAGHDAD - For deployed Soldiers of the Louisiana-based 225th Engineer Brigade, you can take the Soldier out of the state, but you can't take Mardi Gras out of the Soldier.
Thanks to a generous donation of more than 170 care packages as part of Operation Overseas Mardi Gras from Soldier's Angels, an organization aimed at supporting deployed servicemembers, the engineers were able to celebrate in style.
The boxes, each addressed to an individual Soldier, were filled with decorations, beads, colorful masks, moon pies and of course well wishes.
"You could tell Soldiers were happy to receive boxes full of moon pies, beads and other decorations," said Lt. Col. Greg Parker of Gonzalez, La. "The Mardi Gras dAfAcor and food provided "joie-de-vive" (joy of life) to experience Mardi Gras in Iraq."
The headquarters building was decorated for more than a week as Soldiers opened their boxes and added decorations to the displays.
"I received a t-shirt, mask, beads, fleur-de-lis and some candy," said Sgt. 1st Class Janis Smith. The Winnsboro, La. native gave her mask to members of a jazz band playing on Camp Liberty in celebration of the holiday.
Soldiers gave the recipe for a Mardi Gras favorite, king cake, to the cooks in the dining facility; and while the interpretation wasn't perfect, it definitely added to the electric atmosphere.
Soldiers, dressed in full-garb, celebrated as armored vehicle horns honked as they passed by the Soldiers adorned in elaborate masks and costumes; undoubtedly their first experience of Louisiana culture in Iraq.
Louisiana Soldiers said sharing Mardi Gras was the chance to share just a little piece of themselves, the state they represent and a culture rich with history and tradition.
"We can learn a lot from the Iraqi Culture, but we can also share ours at the same time," Parker said. "Iraqi people love to celebrate just like we do."