35 years ago yesterday Iraqi forces crossed the international border and invaded Iran, starting a devastating war which took 8 years and cost many lives and billions of dollars. It is said that Saddam thought at the time he could use the chaos in the country after the so-called Islamic Revolution and defeat Iranians quickly. It just didn't happen although Iran would be defeated almost 8 years later and had to accept the UN Resolution number 598.
I guess I have said this before but I remember we were all out on that day and somehow we realized that the nearby Mehr-Abad Airport had been bombed by Iraqis. We went back home and the coming days were the days of dark out, air raid siren and military marches! I was in grade 5 in a school which the majority of kids were coming from poor, religious families. The coming years were all filled with the government propaganda about the so-called Sacred Defense and media's encouragement to fill the battle fronts. The war then was renamed to Imposed War and all the efforts of the government was useful to send the waves of human beings to the battlegrounds.
In grade 10 or 11, most likely 11 a few of the classmates volunteered and joined the forces. One of them was a very quiet, humble and shy guy who was simply sitting and barely made a peep in the classroom. I remember I joked with him a few times and he quietly smiled. One day he didn't show at the class and it was said that he had joined the forces. He never came back.
The other guy was a close friend of mine whom I spent a lot time with in my junior high years. We We used to play lots of Samurai games(!) on those years but once we had a fight and never stayed friends. When I went back to the neighbourhood's high school after a year and it was grade 10, I saw him. We exchanged a hello and that was it. He joined the volunteers and never came back. There was also this guy who was a complete asshole and we had so many fights and exchange of nasty words. He volunteered too and got killed in the fields.
It's a fact that many of the guys went to war based on their belief and simply what Khomeini was saying in those years. They were simply brainwashed and believed they were doing the right thing. It is also a fact that many went there for the financial reasons. One of my friends who lost his father during the war was being paid regularly for years by this organization called Martyr Foundation. He was also admitted to the university simply because of his father had been killed during the war as a driver who drove a truck. There were lots of them on those years. I remember there was a guy who had not even graduated from high school and he was in the university! He never finished the school! There was another guy who had been injured in the war and I met him in one of the general course classes. He was clueless as what was going on in the class and he was there to do a major in Telecommunication Engineering. He then switched to Civil Engineering and I never heard from him. There were many of these guys and some of them were not doing so bad. At least they got graduated and with the help they got, mostly were hired by government offices and agencies. There was this good friend of mine that we did our final project together and we did two amazing scrambles to Mount. Damavand and Mont. Sabalan. He eventually got himself to the municipality of his neighbourhood and got a few contract from them. Then the last time I heard from him he was trying to get into the Parliament through his hometown people! He was in the battlefronts and just maybe 100 m. away from where Iraqis dropped chemical bombs!
Stories about the war are plenty and some of them are correct and many are untrue. Many will never be known and that is because the government had and still has the full control of media. If you know something I would like to have it send to me but I know these stories requires hundreds of books not a blog! I have asked friends and relatives to send me their memoirs about the first days of war. I will post them here if I receive anything interesting.
(Photo: Iranian youth volunteer soldier is guarding Iraqi prisoners of war. There were a vast usage of the under-age soldiers during the war by Iran. Many of the were recruited form small towns and villages and were sent either to clear minefield or start invasions as part of human wave attackers)