March 25, 2003: Headlines: COS - Iran: Religon: Henderson Gleaner: Iran RPCV Gordon Morrison recalls Middle East experiences

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Iran: Peace Corps Iran : The Peace Corps in Iran: March 25, 2003: Headlines: COS - Iran: Religon: Henderson Gleaner: Iran RPCV Gordon Morrison recalls Middle East experiences

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 1:38 pm: Edit Post

Iran RPCV Gordon Morrison recalls Middle East experiences

Iran RPCV Gordon Morrison recalls Middle East experiences

Minister recalls Middle East experiences

By JUDY JENKINS, Gleaner Columnist
March 25, 2003

The Rev. Gordon Morrison has "smelled Saddam's smoke" and keeps a spent Iraqi anti-aircraft shell on a book-lined shelf in his office.

The rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church was on one of the first civilian planes into the Gulf area at the conclusion of Desert Storm in 1991 and experienced the eye-stinging, nostril-assailing clouds from oil wells burned by retreating Iraqi forces.

Just as he did at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Morrison spent a month relieving "burned out" Episcopal priests serving in the war zones. It was during his post-war stay that he picked up the empty anti-aircraft shell at an Iraqi battery. The shell "still smelled strongly of cordite," said Morrison, who is in his eighth year at St. Paul's. "I soaked it in bleach so it wouldn't ring any bells in Customs."

He has roots and friends in that troubled section of the world, and said he may again be called upon to relieve Episcopal priests when Operation Iraqi Freedom is completed. If summoned, he said, he will go.

In addition to serving congregations there, he would have an opportunity to visit with his and wife Lynda's son Gregory, 33, who is a foreign service officer in the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria. Gregory's wife Elizabeth and 19-month-old son Gabriel were sent back to America several weeks ago, and the two stayed in the parsonage here for a time before going to Elizabeth's parents' home in Alabama.

Morrison said he has some concerns for his elder son because of the anti-war demonstrations in Syria. But, he added, Gregory has good Syrian neighbors who look out for him.

The rector, who grew up in Oakland City, Ind., is by no means a war monger, but he believes that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, "and people who appease tyrants have something to answer for." He points out that early on Hitler was appeased by some European leaders.

Morrison has been to Auschwitz, where so many Jews were executed and burned in crematoriums, and notes that, "If people hadn't appeased Hitler, Auschwitz wouldn't have happened."

He considers Saddam Hussein "one of the five biggest killers of the last 100 years. More than two million people have died because of him."

Morrison's first venture in the Middle East had its start on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963. Morrison, who hadn't yet entered the ministry, was a college graduate with a degree in environmental planning, and the death of the president spurred him to go straight to the nearest post office and obtain a Peace Corps application.

"Kennedy originated the idea of the Peace Corps," and Morrison saw service in that organization as a way to honor the slain leader and help make a difference in the world. He began training the following summer, and was assigned to the historic Persian city of Isfahan in Iran.

There, in that fabled place famous for its blue-domed mosques, he ran a youth center and befriended the Iranian Episcopal bishop, who was a long distance runner as was Morrison. They often ran together, and remained in touch after Morrison completed his Peace Corps posting.

Later, after Morrison had met and married Lynda, the bishop urged him to return to Iran and develop youth programs for the Episcopal Diocese of Iran. Morrison agreed, and his wife -- now a USI history professor who was a medical technologist at that time -- established a lab "in that ancient city of Islam.'' One of the first pregnancy tests she did was for herself, and she learned that she was, indeed, expecting. That was Gregory, whose name is Persian for "one who captures wild horses."

While in Iran, Morrison befriended a priest who was later beheaded by revolutionaries who ousted the Shah and seized control. "They killed him right next to the altar of his church and drew a cross on his forehead with his blood." At that point, the Morrisons had been back in the States for two years.

The minister has no antipathy toward the Muslim religion. "I have high regard for Muslims...I am a friend of Islam," he said. Both religions believe man was created by God, and both hope for eternal life with God.

"It's the fanatics who have distorted that religion."

It is because of terrorist fanatics that Morrison also has some fears for his younger son, Christopher, who works for a law firm in Washington, D.C. and is regularly in and out of embassies.

Asked if he believes there will ever be peace in the Middle East, Morrison sighed. "I don't know...Our Lord wept over Jerusalem 2000 years ago."

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."

December 10, 2004: This Week's Top Stories December 10, 2004: This Week's Top Stories
Dodd says Rumsfeld's answer was unacceptable 9 Dec
RPCV Blake Willeford runs classic movie theatre 9 Dec
RPCV says education is key to curbing AIDS 9 Dec
RPCV Dannielle Tegeder opens exhibition 9 Dec
Shalala 1st Woman In Touchdown Club 9 Dec
"Today we have a new country" says Toledo 9 Dec
DDN wins Investigative Reporting Award 8 Dec
Celeste on Panel to study Colorado finances 8 Dec
RPCV leads Rotary Club medical team to Togo 6 Dec
Vasquez to speak at Hawaii, Wisconsin commencements 6 Dec
Tom Murphy warns Pittsburgh on budget abyss 2 Dec
Venezuela RPCV Martha Egan runs Pachamama imports 30 Nov
more top stories...

RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.
Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
Take our new poll. NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then see on how RPCVs are voting.
Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Henderson Gleaner

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Iran; Religon



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.