The Travelogue of Martyr Sayad Shirazi (by Mohsen Kazemi)

Ahmadreza Amiri Samani

Book Review:

In our country, Iran, the practice of oral history is enmeshed with the war. One could even say that the tradition of oral history in Iran was established because of the war. Maybe, this approach was used to record the history of war and later, they realized that it has other functionalities as well. Historians and historiographers of oral history admit that they write effortlessly when it comes to the history of war. Perhaps, there is something about the essence of war which makes everyone to thrive to read about it, to hear about it. 

One of the frontier oral historians in Iran is Mohsen Kazemi. In the introduction of the book The Travelogue of Martyr Sayad Shirazi, Kazemi asserts that because of his young age, he felt that he could never catch up with what happened in the war. He thrived to experience the war situations (P: 7). Suddenly, he got the chance not only to go on a series of journeys to war zones, but also to accompany one of the legends of the Holy War,  lieutenant general Sayad Shirazi in the last years of Shirazi’s life.

Kazemi, believes that this was a divine opportunity. (P: 7) Enthusiastically, he grabbed his pen and ink and joined the passengers.

Never, did martyr Sayyad Shirazi see the end of war as the end of his activities. Therefore, in 1994, he started to teach at Imam Ali military academy. Afterwards, he established a council named Ma’aref-e-Jang in order to record the memories of war veterans of operation fields and the residuals of the fronts and document and complete them in Tehran.

In 1995, Mohsen Kazemi got the opportunity to accompany this council in 9 trips, as a historian to record every minute of the journeys. In addition to this task, he recorded all the activities, words, lectures, memories, management methods and even night prayers of martyr Sayad Shirazi so that afterwards, he can publish a piece whose focal theme is Sayad Shirazi. The result of these 9 journeys is a 262 page book called The Travelogue of Martyr Sayad Shirazi which is co-published by the Art Center (Hozeh-ye-Honari) and the council of Ma’aref-e-Jang in the military of the Islamic Republic, in 1999.

This book is conducted in accordance with the order of the journeys. The content list is as follows: 1. Kurdestan Operation, 2. Eastern Azarbaijan operation, 3. Khusestan Operation, 4. Tarigh Al-Ghods Operation Field, 5. The camping trip of Imam Ali military academy, 6. Fath-Al Mobin Operation Zone I, 7.Fath-Al Mobin Operation Zone II, 8. Fath-Al Mobin Operation Zone and finally, 9. The camping trip of Imam Ali military academy

In this book, Mohsen Kazemi chooses to write from Sayad Shirazi’s point of view in the form of diary. The journeys are two to 4 days. The tone of the narrator which conveys personal feelings, anxieties and observation, has brought life to the story.  The council which consisted of army commanders visited different warzones and shared their memories of war with one another. Martyr Sayad Shirazi, investigated the condition of military bases and warzones after the war. Sometimes he was satisfied and other times, he was disappointed that the military bases over which they had fought for many months were now completely abandoned.

Kazemi, focuses on Sayad Shirazi because, he was the founder of these trips, the one who brought everyone together. He recreated every mission with other commanders at each operation field. Sometimes, he drew the mission plan, the movement of the forces and, the location of the deployment of forces in his notebook. Mohsen Kazemi has delicately included these handwritten drawings in between the text of the book.
The dispatched group not only observed the warzones, but also, considered cultural issues. They visited the family of the martyrs of that area. Mohsen Kazemi records all these moments in this book. In addition, he includes some selected pictures of the journeys at the end of the book.

The Travelogue of Shahid Sayad Shirazi was published for the forth time in the winter of 2009.

Translated by: Jairan Gahan

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