What We Carried

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Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.  While looking back on the war's impact, last week we started a conversation about the books that first helped you comprehend war. In that discussion, many listeners cited "The Things They Carried," Tim O'Brien's moving fictional account of the Vietnam War.

Takeaway listener Jim Lommasson is a Portland-based photographer and writer; after hearing our conversation about "The Things They Carried," he contacted us to share some of the stories he discovered while documenting the items Iraqi refugees brought with them when they left their homes.  

Over the past ten years, an estimated 2.2 million Iraqis have fled their country in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to the United Nations.  Lomasson's project, called "What We Carried," presents a snapshot of the kinds of items refugees couldn't bear to leave behind.




"I want to ask my country 'Iraq' when we will get some rest. Shall we spend tears on our current circumstance or should we cry for the past. We have been carrying our miseries for long time on our chests. Strangers from around the world occupied our land and they kill our people for a very cheap price. We are tired, we are tired and we want to get some rest." — Ali Ali

"I carry this photo with me. It is the wedding party of my brother "Noori" when I was in Turkey in 2008 away from my family. I carry this photo with me where ever I go, I love my family so much and I remember my family and my childhood when I look at the photo, everyday, every month, and every year. I hope God will save my family and save Iraq." — Samir

"Those were the days my friend…we thought they never end!!"

"The picture on the phone is my house in Baghdad. This means home for us. This phone has all the numbers of our friends and relatives in Iraq as well as pictures."

"As an immigrant I never considered my self less than the pioneers. What made this country, maybe I am late by 300 or 400 years, but I am here now and I really trying to go on their path which it was building and protecting it, and to so I joined the army and I am proud of it, at least this will make me protect it."

"We could not bring every important thing we have except a few books belonging to my wife's research and some small English language dictionaries. This is a disk of English language education. It teaches especially conjugation of English verbs."

"Don't spend tears because you are away from our country. Our country will always be in our hearts."

" When everything goes wrong, the only thing you can always do right is to hold your faith. That is what Jonah did. He said 'In my distress I called to the Lord' -Jonah 2:2. I am in last hours inside the fish, but Iraq is still in it's first day. But I have faith that the lord will save us both."

"I brought this golden piece from Iraq to remind me of my country."

"To Adam we all belong, and Adam of earth soil."