Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Paddy's Day Kosovo-style!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Kosovo!  Irish nationals and those of Irish heritage managed to celebrate St. Paddy's Day in style no matter our location.  My celebrating started off with attending the Irish KFOR medal parade at Camp Clarke.  The 73-Irish soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Group were awarded the non-article 5 (I believe that means no-combat) medal for participation in KFOR's peacekeeping mission.  After the medal parade, complete with the blessing and distribution of shamrocks and bagpipers, we were invited to light refreshments in the dining hall which turned out to be a feast of salads, cooked meat, seafood, and lots of cakes!  It was very nice to see the soldiers shown some appreciation for coming to Kosovo and working in peacekeeping as many have left their families for many months and when things get rough, they are the first to be called to help restore order.
After the medal parade, it was home to take a bit of a nap because everyone was planning on going out for drinks at the Phoenix to celebrate.  We kicked off the night around 9pm with everything from Guinness, Jameson, and Baileys.  A couple of us (pictured below are Billie V., Tom, and myself) even wore funny St. Paddy's Day hats.  I really got into it in my shirt that said "The leprechauns made me do it", the hat, and shamrock earrings :)  It only comes once a year so why not do a good job of partying it up?!  After a couple hours at the Phoenix (oh, yeah, the 10pm curfew has been lifted.  Now Americans can be there as long as they are not intoxicated...wonder how they will figure out who is and isn't!!!), it was time to head home....what a great night!!!
Oh, and before I forget, I want to say "Welcome" to Luna, author of the Kosovo2007 blogspot, who contacted me about using some photos of Kosovo life.  It's wonderful to know that someone else is posting information about Kosovo because the most common complaint I hear from people is that there is little to no information about what it is like to live here...and that's frustrating when you have thousands of internationals being asked to move away from home to come serve in the mission.

Also, amid the celebration, today marks the three year anniversary of the March 2004 riots that left 19 people dead, more than 800 homes, 35 churches destroyed, and all because of misinformation spread by the local Albanian media about events in Northern Mitrovica.