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Baghdad for Mardi Gras? No Problem of Life

Sgt. Rebekah Malone, 225th Engineer Brigade

Sgt. RoKeisha Berymon of Alexandria, La., 225th Engineer Brigade, Louisiana National Guard, celebrates Mardi Gras, Feb. 24, in style by dressing up in the traditional holiday attire of colored beads and masks, 225th Engineer Brigade

BAGHDAD – 02.25.2009

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 service members, 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 décor 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. Members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 225th Engineer Brigade pose in front of their headquarters, Feb. 24. The Soldiers won’t let a deployment to Iraq stand in their way to celebrate Mardi Gras. Donations from home and a “joie-de-vive” keeps the good times rolling. ,225th Engineer Brigade

“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.”

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