• Grateful for Ceramic: Improvements in armor can have a real impact on the lives of soldiers (this page), as staff writer Scott Peterson found out when he went to a ceremony in Fallujah, Iraq, in which 13 Purple Heart medals were awarded to wounded US soldiers.
One 20-year-old recipient was clearly grateful that hardened ceramic plates have become standard issue in bullet-proof vests. "He was fingering the piece of shrapnel that lodged in his back plate, and said he would always have it with him," Scott says of Lance Corp. Jeffrey Scott, from Ogdensburg, N.Y. The finger-tip sized chunk bruised him so deeply that he had difficulty moving for several days. "Without that plate, he wouldn't have been there to get his medal," says Scott.
David Clark Scott
• Controversial Colors: Iraq's new flag abandons the symbols of Saddam Hussein's regime. It also avoids the colors used in other Arab flags: green and black for Islam and red for Arab nationalism. The flag, designed by an Iraqi artist and approved by the Governing Council, has two parallel blue stripes representing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The yellow stripe represents Iraq's ethnic Kurd minority, taking its color from the yellow star on the flag of Kurdistan. It has a crescent representing Islam. But the color scheme is being criticized because the only other country in the Middle East with blue stripes on its flag is Israel.