Thursday, March 11, 2004

Where's Rambo?

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Lawyer Fern Holland went to Iraq to help the nation's women: She investigated human-rights violations, set up conferences and assisted in writing the women's rights section of the new constitution.

"If I die, know that I'm doing precisely what I want to be doing," Holland wrote in an e-mail to a friend on Jan. 21.

Holland was one of three civilians killed Tuesday after several gunmen posing as Iraqi police officers stopped her vehicle at a makeshift checkpoint near the town of Hillah, about 35 miles south of Baghdad. ...

Holland's family believes she was targeted by assassins because of her work, which included opening women's centers around Iraq.

"She believed in freedom. She believed that every man and woman born should enjoy the right of freedom," her sister Vi Holland said. ...

Holland, a 1996 graduate of the University of Tulsa College of Law, worked at two law firms in Tulsa before joining the Peace Corps and traveling to Namibia.

She returned to the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but did not stay long.

Tulsa attorney Stephen Rodolf, who kept in touch with Holland through e-mail, said she seemed to be aware of growing threats to her safety.

"We stand out, and those who dislike us know precisely when we come to town," she wrote to him.

Her job required her to travel almost every day on highways where snipers and roadside bombs lurked. And yet, she asked to travel with an unarmed escort because she felt the high security around her was a barrier to her work, he said.

"She was an extraordinary person who honestly wanted to help people," Rodolf said. "Anybody who knew her would tell you that."

That's the best of this country. No conflict whatsoever between serving in the Peace Corps and helping to rebuild Iraq. People on both sides of the U.S. political equation should wake up to that one. It's the same good work.

And today in Greece, hundreds march against American participation in the security for the Olympics Games, under posters that read "Rambo, Go Home."

See Fern Holland; meet your "Rambo."