Ten years after the U.S.-led invasion in Baghdad, Fredonia High School alum (1979) and citizen journalist Kelly Hayes-Raitt will return to Baghdad this summer.
She'll be speaking about her upcoming trip in Fredonia Saturday at noon at the White Inn. It's an open, free and public event. Sandwiches, tea and coffee will be served compliments of Shaun and Aisling Heenan.
Hayes-Raitt went to Iraq 10 years ago twice - once in February 2003, just five weeks before the U.S.-led invasion and again in July, about nine weeks after "mission accomplished," to find the Iraqis who had touched her so deeply. She's returning this summer to update her stories and to learn firsthand: "Are we really out of Iraq?"
Hayes-Raitt isn't afraid to poke the dragons most of us ignore. She puts herself on the front line and engages our "enemy," then returns home and engages us to face that "enemy" usually mothers, fathers, children who are just like you and me.
Her trip is estimated to cost $20,000. She'll tell about the "hostile environment training" she'll take for journalists reporting from war zones and her considerations for hiring a driver.
Saturday's event at the White Inn in Fredonia will take place at noon. The public is invited to bring questions, ideas, concerns and support .
Hayes-Raitt has written about her encounters and experiences in order to put a human face on U.S. foreign policies. Those early newspaper columns in Santa Monica Daily Press and blogs now form the backbone of her forthcoming journalistic memoir "Living Large In Limbo: How I Found Myself Among the World's Forgotten." Hear her read her first chapter by logging on for free to her new website at www.LivingLargeInLimbo.com, a moving four-minute reading about her encounter with a beggar in Baghdad.
Several chapters of Hayes-Raitt's book have been included in anthologies, including two published by Random House and others used widely in college classes. Two chapters are included in the popular Travelers' Tales books marketed to women travelers, such as Best Women's Travel Writing 2011. So far, eight of her chapters have won a total of 17 literary awards! One editor is nominating her work for a prestigious Pushcart Prize.
Please RSVP to Kelly: HayesRaitt@aol.com - but RSVP is not critical - just come!