He saw two teenage boys with a hammer and a chisel diligently chipping away at one of the last statues of Saddam Hussein that still remained in the capital.

As Eberly passed, the boys turned, smiled and gave him a thumbs up.

"My heart soared,'' said Eberly. "We place our hope in these kids.''

Last month, President Bush assigned Eberly, of East Hempfield Township, to go to Iraq to work with Iraqi athletes and politicians to rebuild the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

Before the war, the ministry was run by Uday Hussein, the eldest son of Saddam Hussein, who used his position to support his decadent lifestyle and satisfy his lust for violence and sex.

Since Eberly arrived, he has helped to expose a legacy of torture and brutality perpetrated by Uday Hussein.

Athletes, former servants, and even people who lived in the neighborhood of the Iraqi Olympic Committee have told him stories about the violent life of Uday.

"People can't get on with their lives unless they can talk about the horrors of the past,'' said Eberly.

"This country will need to come to terms with its past, and one way to do that is simply to talk about what happened here. It brings about healing,'' he said.

The U.S.-led coalition destroyed the Iraqi government in March and April, deposing its dictator, Saddam Hussein, and his sons, Uday and Qusay.

"The stories are everywhere. Almost any local person will tell you where the abuse was carried out,'' said Eberly.

The stories have been "gut-wrenching,'' said Eberly, who has worked for the White House first as deputy director of Faith-based and Community Initiatives and then as senior policy coordinator for civil society. He is also the co-founder of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

When Eberly first arrived at the bombed-out former headquarters of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, a group of neighborhood kids collecting tin and copper from the building told him where the prison and torture chamber was in the basement of the building.

The saddest stories are from families marred by the memories of Uday's cruelty.

Uday had a cruel reputation for crashing weddings and either stealing the bride or any guest that intrigued him to rape and in some cases murder them, Eberly said.

Soon after recovering from a 1996 assassination attempt, Uday was prowling a wedding when he spotted a 13-year-old girl sitting with her family.

He had his bodyguards kidnap her, Eberly said, and then Uday raped the girl and returned her to her family three days later with new clothes and some jewelry. When her father complained, Uday forced him to deliver the girl, and her 12-year-old sister, for a party at Uday's palace. The father, fearing for his life, complied.

Last October, Uday stole an 18-year-old bride from her wedding, Eberly said. He raped and tortured her before murdering her. When the servant who was called to clean up afterward asked a question, her life was threatened, said Eberly.

Athletes talked of being tortured and humiliated for crossing Uday. Eberly recently met Ahmed Rhadi, Iraq's best-known soccer player. Rhadi spoke about twice being imprisoned for disappointing Uday.

On a recent tour of Uday's once-opulent palace in Baghdad, wrecked by a 2,000-pound bunker-buster bomb on the opening night of the war, Eberly and his team were taken to an underground cell where Uday was said to have personally tortured anyone who crossed him.

"The killing here was carried out at times for personal pleasure,'' observed Eberly. "It was truly sick.''

Uday's younger brother, Qusay, also had a reputation for brutality. He was responsible for ordering the slaughter of thousands of Shi'ite rebels who rose up after the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraqis considered Qusay to be meek compared to his older brother, said Eberly. The extent of Uday's violent nature even shocked his father. Saddam had Uday imprisoned when his son beat to death Saddam's favorite body guard.

Eberly believes the brothers' behavior suggests they were both mentally ill.

Uday suffered constantly from the wounds of the failed attempt on his life. Some members of Uday's household staff have told Eberly that the combined effects of his chronic pain, his heavy use of pain-killers and other hard drugs, and his obsession with abusing people, were signs of an imbalance.

Qusay reportedly was more quiet and reserved. It is known that he did not like to be touched, even by family members. If kissed on the cheek, a common greeting in the Arab world, he would go to the bathroom to wash his face.

"There were personal and family pathologies that ran quite deep and seemed to produce greater and greater instability'' in the brothers, said Eberly. "Both were raised in violence under a ruthless and violent father.''

"Each reportedly were made to witness executions and at least mild torture at an early age,'' he said.

Almost every Iraqi Eberly has met, he said, has suffered as a result of that abuse Uday and Qusay experienced as children.

Part of the job of the U.S. administrators has become learning to be listeners, helping Iraqis work through their deep mental and emotional wounds, explained Eberly.

But with the ouster of the regime came a new day, said Eberly.

Eberly said most Iraqis believe that Saddam and his sons probably survived the war and are in hiding. There have been reports that Uday has tried to cut a deal with the U.S. military for his surrender.

"There may be some uncertainly and anxiety in the minds of Iraqis, but most believe the (Husseins) are gone forever,'' said Eberly. "People's confidence that they have a new future is steadily rising,'' said Eberly.

Eberly described the Iraqi people he's met as "nice, sturdy, hardworking people. They have a lot in common with Lancaster countians.''

Helping the Iraqis rebuild the Olympic Committee, or a simple thing like arranging a soccer match between two national teams, has been a trying but rewarding job for Eberly.

"We're trying to introduce democratic principles, in baby steps. Keep in mind that this was never done here before, not in millennia of history,'' he said.

At a recent meeting of sporting leaders from every region, religion and ethnicity in Iraq -- held to discuss the formation of an Olympic Committee -- Eberly said he had to explain basic democratic processes like majority rule, open discussion and the importance of listening to people with other opinions.

"It was exhilarating to watch it slowly take hold. In the end, even those who preferred that a strong man make the decisions stood and applauded,'' he said.

Eberly is confident in the future of Iraq and in the determination of the Iraqi people to more forward.

After three wars and several decades of oppression, the Iraqis are ready to try something new. Eberly believes the Iraqis have seen, even in the last few months, what a little democracy can do. The days of a strongman in Iraq are over, he said.

The fact that some politicians and members of the press back in the United States continue to question the justification of the war puzzles Eberly.

"No one here doubts that there was huge capacity for rapid development of the means to threaten the stability of the entire region. One-fourth of the 24 ministries of government had something to do with weapons research and development.

"Senior military officers were employed in the youth ministry, training children to spy on their parents and teachers and to follow a dictator's every command,'' said Eberly.

Giving Uday's prized personal items back to the Baghdad residents gives a lot of joy to the soldiers stationed in Baghdad, said Eberly.

They've found more than 200 canes in Uday's bombed-out palace: a collection Uday apparently prized. Some are ornately carved. Others are covered in gold, silver or bronze. Some even contain swords or 9-mm guns. The more functional ones they've handed out.

Uday's large collection of shoes and clothing (he was obsessed with European fashions) have been also distributed by soldiers.

Uday's large collection of toys was handed out to orphans.