Friday, February 04, 2005
I was going to put a photo up that I took of the contents of the package, but my photohost isn't responding.
I loved it! There was: A magnetic note pad for my fridge, with a vintage image of a mom type cooking, saying "You'll eat it...You'll eat it and like it!" which cracked us up, a tin of Blue Sky Alpaca's knitter's balm, which I have been wanting to try, and am really loving, an enamel clip/pin which was quite lovely, and a little magnet pal sheep! I love this sheep. I think I can even use him as a pencil topper. (edited to mention: I also received the Winter issue of Interweave Knits, which is my favorite knitting magazine.) All this is to say thank you secret pal!
To continue with the box theme, I have some pictures of Amira at church this past Sunday sitting in a box and picking out oranges from a box.
In the meantime, I have permission from our friend Ryan to post his latest letter here. He is a marine who has been at war for the past six months. There are a couple spots where the language gets, shall we say, colorful, but I didn't want to edit this.
Ok, ok, my guilty concience is eating me alive. And since half of you know already (due to some leaks in the family grapevine!) I might as well inform the rest of you all at once so I don't have to repeat the stories over and over.
So here goes.
I lied. I've been lying to you all the whole time. And I'm not sorry! The internet has not been down, not for the past week, nor any of the other times I said. The last comm blackout was because I was in Baghdad, helping (in a very, very small way) with the elections. I was ok though, living in heated Air Force tents (AIRPOWER!!) sleeping on a real mattress, eating at an Army chow hall (HOOAAH!!) where I could consume as many bacon cheeseburgers, smoothies, milkshakes and buffalo wings as my shrunken stomach could handle. It was great. But at the mere mention of "baghdad" many of you would have freaked out, and I couldn't allow that. So I lied.
We collected the Iraqi election workers, arranged them into nice neat little military-straight lines, and marched them into Air Force airplanes, at which point they were distributed around the country to carry out a very successful election. Despite what the media claim, progress is made here everyday. And if you still don't think we needed to be here, I'll show you pictures of the lakeside palaces that Saddam used as collection points for the Iraqi women selected at random to pleasure visiting officials. He chose the lake because most can't swim, and therefore couldn't escape the raping and beating from these wonderful people and the wonderful government which managed to score a 99.9% in the last election. If that doesn't convince you, perhaps the tigers that used to eat the dissenters could, or perhaps the countless families who have no idea what happened to their loved ones after Saddam's henchmen came calling.
The other times I said the internet was going out is because I was either preparing for, or on a mission in other parts of the country. We developed quite a reputation as a unit for being able to work well with squadrons, and were therefore highly reccommended and requested for quite a few operations. We've recovered a few crashed helicopters, picked up river patrol boats, and lifted thousands of tons of food and water for those Marines who are actually out in the field, wresting control of the country from those who use fear and intimidation as weapons to carry out their plans of domination. And if that sounds like propaganda bullshit, well, too bad. I've carried dead Marines from the cargo holds of aircraft, and I know they died for a good cause. I've seen what we're doing here, waved to the children who were happy to see us and I now have seen the smiles of the election workers who know that they did a good job. On the flip side I've been on the recieving end of more than one rocket attack, had a roadside bomb go off a few-hundred feet behind me on a convoy, and have also just sat and listened during a chilly Baghdad evening to the distant sounds of unfriendly explosions. A few months ago insurgents drove a truck filled with explosives up to our front gate, and 'Boom'. Four Iraqi police from Al Asad are dead. Actually many of you picked up on that attack from the news, but I lied to you and said it was another base. Bad guys took out our water a few times, apparently by blowing up the pumping station outside of base. Not really hazardous, more of a pain in the ass. As a direct result, if you want to know anything about keeping clean with baby wipes, I'm your man!
There are people here who are pure evil, and know nothing but hatred and contempt for the ideas of equality and democracy. But there are more people who want it to work.
You can believe that we are here for oil. Or you can believe that we are here to establish a base in the mideast. Or you can accept at face value what GW said at the beginning. It really doesn't matter what you believe(and I really don't care), we are here and we aren't leaving. Saddam was a bad, bad man. Whatever the reasons, we came and removed him, and I for one am glad. I believe Iraq is better for it. If you still don't believe, then you can talk to the polling workers who risked their lives to help the vote go smoothly. Or maybe we could set up an interview with the tiger.
My time here is rapidly drawing to a close, probably not much more than a month. Six months in the desert is not that long really, especially compared to the soldiers who are forced to stay for 18 months. But it seemed like an eternity. I have learned quite a bit about myself and a tiny bit about the world in the process. Most likely I will not have to go outside the wire again, as our missions are wrapping up. All that is left now is to get our replacements up to speed, and then fly home. Good news for you... no more lies!
This will probably be my last mass-email. Thanks for your time and all the letters, I really do appreciate it. I'll write when I can, and I look forward to seeing everyone when I get home.