This Saturday in Baghdad, Iraq the Barnich Sports Field will be dedicated by State Dept. Ambassador Hill. This is meaningful to me because the field was built and named in memory of Terry Barnich, my first boss after college who until his death by a roadside bomb last summer was the Deputy Director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office in Baghdad. I last spoke with Terry a couple of years ago when he was back in Chicago after having been in Iraq for several months. He was upbeat about the work he was doing and fervently believed in the mission of helping the Iraqi people develop the stable democracy they deserve.
Terry was well-known in Illinois GOP politics, having served as chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission (what they call their Public Utilities Commission) as well as legal counsel to former Gov. Jim Thompson. He was on the short-list of candidates to run against then state Sen. Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Terry was a great guy and mentor to me who joked that he wanted to get me appointed to the state Commerce Commission but that we couldn’t wait more than a year or two or else I’d be overqualified (this when I was 22).
Here’s a picture of the Barnich Sports Field in Baghdad as well as a link to the USA Today article from last summer. I’m grateful to see that Terry’s love of public service and athletics will be preserved for the benefit of the Iraqi citizens he gave his life to serving.