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Service translates into patriotism

Baghdad native and Glendale resident presents an American flag that flew over the Green Zone.

January 12, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero )

Leedoosh Nersesian traveled across the world to present the City Council with an American flag on Tuesday.

It wasn't just any flag. The flag flew over the Green Zone, the headquarters for American and allied operations in Baghdad, where Nersesian was serving as civilian translator for the U.S. Army.

A native of Baghdad, Nersesian was 20 when she left for safety in Italy and helped relocate her family and others to the United States. Her family arrived in Glendale in October 1981.

Nersesian is home on a two-week break before returning to Baghdad, where she hopes to wrap up her work by March.

"Then I want to take a break for a couple of months, enjoy time with my family," she said.

Up next: Afghanistan. Nersesian — fluent in English, Arabic and Armenian — has applied for a job serving alongside coalition troops.

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"This time, it is not going to be translation," she said. "It will be as a cultural advisor."

Nersesian said one reason she returned to Baghdad was curiosity about her country of origin. She was saddened by what she saw.

"Every day, explosions," she said. "Every day, rockets."

Afghanistan never was home, but Nersesian has made peace with working in war zones in support of the U.S. military.

"When you live the military life, there is always a point you get familiar with the life so you are not scared," she said. "You live a different way."

Asked why Glendale gets a flag, she said the answer is simple.

"It's my city," Nersesian said. "I'm proud to live in the city of Glendale."

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