22 September 2005

Numbers

I actually had time to stop and think about the last 2 and a half years and I realized a few things, I am meticulous at keeping details, so I thought I'd share some things with everyone out there.

1472 Number of days since 9/11 happened
916 Number of days since Operation Iraqi Freedom started
537 Number of days I have served away from my family on operations in support of the War on Terror
4 Number of countries I have been deployed to in the War on Terror
3 Number of the anniversary's I have missed in the 4 years since 9/11
3 Number of my wife's birthday's I have away for during the 4 years since the war started
77 Number of indirect fire attacks I have been in in my three tours of duty in Iraq
2 Number of IED's I have had go off within 150 meters of me in my three tours in Iraq
5 Number of times I have been shot at with direct fire in my three tours of duty in Iraq
1 Number of rockets that have hit the building I was sleeping in in my three tours of duty in Iraq
4 Number of wounded Seabees and Army soldiers I helped treat and load onto Medevacs when they were hit by Indirect fire last year in Ramadi
3 Number of personal friends I have lost here in Iraq
50 million The number of free Muslims since 9/11
1 Number of convictions it will take to execute Saddam Hussein the butcher of the Middle East

I didn't compile this list for my own edification, but it does make me think, I have given up so much in these last four years, but what I have lost is nothing compared to the 2100+ men and women that have fallen in this war. They gave everything of their mortal souls, their families will never see them again, their wives and husbands will have to tell their sons and daughters of the sacrifice of their mother or father. That spouse will have to live with a lifetime of memories and thoughts of "what if" in many cases this moment will be remembered as one of the most tragic in the survivors lives. The fallen men and women did have a choice, no matter what Cindy Sheehan or Phil Donahue say, the fallen volunteered to be here. And isn't that something that makes America special? The men and women of our country actually believe in doing good, not for riches, power, or conquest, isn't that statement a marvel to read. A small group of Americans believe in going to another place and doing whatever it takes to ease the suffering of a group of people they know little about. They give their hearts and souls and their sweat and blood, because of the feeling that they get when an Iraqi child smiles because they have been given crayons or a soccer ball, I know that feeling, it is the most peaceful joyous feeling in the world. That soccer ball might be the only toy that child possesses, and for one moment in time that child isn't feeling malnourishe or afraid of the monsters that move among the Iraqi people. That child feels happiness and we feel it with them, not because we gave them the toy, but because the feeling of love and caring for another human being especially an innocent is a universal feeling. We who have everything risk it all to give to those who nothing, going against the dictates of our popular culture. The people of Iraq were brutalized, victimized and traumatized under the rule of Saddam Hussein, the children of America live the life of the most advanced, wealthiest society in Human history and some of them find more peace and happiness in coming here and giving to the Iraqi people than they do in the life of materialism that our society offers and even encourages over sacrifice and civic duty. Again reread that sentence and let me reiterate, there are some among us who have found our true inner selves on this journey into the heart of darkness. I know "heart of darkness" must sound cliched to some of you, but that's what's here the heart of darkness and evil. Muslims are not evil, Muslims that like strict Islam are not by definition evil, but the people that are fighting us here in Iraq, well many of them are evil. I have said this before, but I'll do it again for emphasis. Evil is waiting until the coalition builds a playground and then firing rockets at it as soon as it is open for children to play on. Evil is taking over towns lining up anyone that does not agree with the insurgents and gunning them down. Evil is kidnapping a female election worker, raping her, record the rape and send a copy of it to her husband. These people in Iraq are evil, I call myself a Christian and have a hard problem with bloodlust, but in this case evil must be destroyed. I find happiness when I hear we have captured or killed an insurgent that attacked Iraqi women and children or my comrades in arms. They are either confessing their sins to Allah or they going to be talking to the walls in Abu Ghraib, either way I feel peace at those thoughts. The scum of the earth have no place in a society of innocents seeking a way out of their 25 year nightmare, the insurgents are going to fail. I have always been confident Iraq will be all it wants to be, but I have never been as confident as I have these last few months, seeing the Iraqis in action and the people's hatred for the insurgents, I truly believe Iraq will win its struggle against the monsters of humanity's dark soul.

I have been changed by my experiences in Iraq, last year I sought counseling for PTSD, last year I saw friends die in front of me and nearly lost my own life if not for divine intervention and I belive that's what it was. I'm not special, nor does God favor me, but it was not yet my time. I had many of the classic symptoms of PTSD and my wife and I went through some hard times. Through her help and my acceptance of God back into my life we have triumphed. I was told to avoid coming back here, I disobeyed my therapist and came anyway. This third time has exhausted me like nothing else in my life, but like a marathon runner I have gotten my second wind and a few things have been revealed to me.

1. No matter how Iraq votes on its constitution or its next govt. it is a triumph of the will of the beautiful Iraqi people. If the Sunnis reject the Constitution, guess what? Democracy worked! If the people chose an Islamic govt. I personally will be upset, but this isn't my choice, or Cindy Sheehan's choice, or anyone's choice except for the Iraqis. Democracy is messy, their destiny is in their hands, we can sit next to them and help them if they need it or we can do what our moral cowards want and abandon them to the virus that is Islamic terrorism.

2. I miss my wife a lot more this time than ever before. We have been married 7 years now, but it is only recently that I discovered what it is to be a good husband and a good man, I want to share that with her. I want us to be together whenever possible as much as possible. She truly is my everything in life, without her I would not be half the man I am today.

3. My feelings about Americans in the military has been reaffirmed yet again. Everywhere I look I see heroes, they go out on patrols, they change oil in Humvees, they sit behind computer screens for 12-15 hours a day. They are quite simply the most amazing people I have ever known in my life. They believe in a better world made through the efforts of their own hands, they truly are the children of America. If you read this and see a service member, say hello or buy their meal or just talk to them, they appreciate anyone just talking to them. The patriots of America are not the shrill fanatics you will see in Washington D.C. this weekend, the true patriots are eating a meal in a dining facility at least 5000 miles from the people they love most, they are manning a checkpoint that has been attacked already this week while thinking of their wifes eyes or smile, or they are treating a wounded comrade, doing everything in their power to keep that friend alive to see a son or daughter he does not know. If only the people against the war knew more about those fighting the war, one wonders if they would still be so full of hatred if they knew the love of soldiers.

I will close with a lyric or two from a song named "Bug Eyes" by a band named Dredg, they are a progressive rock band, but almost everyone of their songs touches my heart and my soul.



It's been ten years strong, that's much too long
It's time to do something good for my health
Time to do somethin' good for myself
It's been ten years strong, that's much too long
It's time to do something good for my health
Time to do somethin' good for myself
I've wasted all this time, I've wasted all this time

Your journey back to birth its haunting you it's haunting you
Your departure from the earth, it's haunting you, it's haunting you

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