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This Happened

This Happened - April 9: Saddam Hussein Statue Crashes Down

The photos of the Saddam Hussein statue being toppled were iconic images of the fall of the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on this day in 2003. U.S. forces entered Baghdad and toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square and the image of the statue falling became a powerful symbol of the end of Hussein's regime.

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Who photographed the Saddam Hussein statue being toppled?

This was one of several memorable images of the Saddam Hussein statue being toppled, taken by Associated Press photographer Jerome Delay. Delay was among a group of journalists who were present at Firdos Square. His photograph stood out because of the U.S. soldier in the foreground at the moment the statue crashes to the ground.

What was the significance of the Saddam Hussein statue being toppled?

The statue had long been a symbol of Hussein's oppressive regime, and its destruction represented the end of that regime. The event was seen as a turning point in the war and as a sign of the liberation of the Iraqi people.

Was the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue spontaneous or planned?

The toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue was not entirely spontaneous, but it was not entirely planned either. U.S. Marines had taken control of Firdos Square earlier in the day and had positioned a tank near the statue. Iraqi civilians who had gathered in the square to celebrate the fall of Hussein's regime were encouraged by the Marines to take action against the statue. The crowd then pulled down the statue with ropes and sledgehammers.

What happened to the statue of Saddam Hussein after it was taken down?

The statue was dragged through the streets of Baghdad by U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians. The head of the statue was later removed and the body was taken away. The fate of the statue is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have been melted down and recycled. Some parts of the statue, including the head, have been preserved and are on display in museums and other locations around the world.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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