Here are the latest letters from a U.S. soldier in Iraq, David.
Hello friends, how are you doing, first, thank you for the kind letters. I deeply appreciate them and only wish I could write back individually to each one. I am half way out of my depression. I would say waist deep. I think my Iraq situation is very close to what it must be like being in quicksand. let me clarify, when you find yourself in quicksand the worse thing you can do is panic and struggle because the movement and struggle only gets you in deeper. Its the same here, the more I struggle and fight myself and why I am here the deeper and more stuck i get. I have maid a point not to fight the deployment. right now as I hand write this I am on Local National escort with an Indian, its peculiar because other Indians can go around unescorted but not this one. I have to follow him around as he does his job. Its a rather boring detail, so far he is cleaning showers and latrines and I sit and watch. I did get a chance to talk to him, back home he is a Rice farmer, interested din mechanics and world history. he makes 450 dollars a month here, he said if he did the same job back in India he would only make around 50 dollars a month. He sends most of his money back home. here in Iraq he makes as much as a doctor would in India.. I think of everything i can about India and Indian culture to spark conversation, He mentioned he was a rice farmer and I mention Basmati rice, he is impressed that I know the difference and even heard of it. I remember a few Hindu Gods, Bollywood, the fighting in the Cashmere are, Yoga, Indian foods, New Dehli, Bangalore (there are pretty girls in Bangalore). We jump around. I am sure if a foreigner wanted to start a conversation with me about the states, it might be something like, ‘so…the united states, the statue of liberty… cool. hotdogs, hamburgers, cowboys and Hollywood.” I am sure that is how my conversation seemed to him.< /br> He said with the money he makes here he will open his own business back home. he is 9 months into a 2 year commitment. it is interesting to see how people from other countries view us. he thinks American woman dress to sexually but overall he is proud to say he finds that Americans and Indians have alot in common. We talk in fragmented sentences. Of course the conversation moves towards family. As it always does. It seems family is the common denominator that we all hold important across cultures and religions. I am married of course, I always tell them I am married because its a sign of maturity. Especially at my age, most of the world would consider it strange that I wasn’t married. This time I say I have two children, two sons. the only thing is every time I think of it, the question i think of Shari, she is the one i think of when i say I am married. she is the mother of my two fictional children.< /br> Saying there was small arms firen and explosions today is redundant. Did the sun rise? so yea, there was a rising cloud of black smoke outside the walls this morning and than I saw two attach helicopter fly low to the site and throw down some rounds. interesting sight.< /br> So i decided not to rant to much about politics, though, one fellow caught my attention. Ted Turner recently made some comments to the effect that men should not be in politics for the next 100 years or so. This statement implies that men have messed things up. Of course this is convenient for Mr. Turner to make such lofty statement when he is perched on such a high pedestal. The truth of the matter is money controls politics, Mr. Turner can buy politicians whether they be female or male. Money is power. If he wants to get my attention, he should say all men should be stripped of thier money and assets. of course you won’t hear that from Mr. Turner. he is the same individual who stated he wanted to buy enough land in the US so he could ride his horse from one side of the coast to the other without ever getting off his land. whatever happened to live modestly and only take what you need. I think I am going to start a list of people who should be sitting in the same seat as Sadaam. Mr. Turner should be tried for his crimes, Attempted murder of intelligent thought and sensibility. Sorry, Mr. Turner you have underestimated the intelligence of the American People again. We are not as stupid as you would hope us to be.< /br> So I am studying a programing language with my off time. Its totally going against how my mind is wired. I always figured myself more for a creative sort and not analytical, so trying to pick up this computer language of Java is a bit hard but I feel after repeated and repeated exposures I am getting the hang of it. Its all about Object Oriented programming, attributes, varibales, methods, classes, arguments, encapsulation, inheritance. all of this stuff is a nice respite to the uneven unsensible world outside the wire. The language has precision, form, and logic outside the wire there is none of that. I can see now and feel Picasso’s Guernica, his painting on war.
#15 Status Quo Soldier
Hello friends, This morning I was thinking of all the things ahead of me and behind. In this long marathon, I am far enough along where the starting point is a good distance away, so far now that the first memories of this deployment are fuzzy and unsure. Its funny, we watch a network called AFN, it stands for Armed Forces Network, and they show all types of shows, we get the sports channel so we watch all the football games and sportscenter, so we are up to date on most things.>That said, there are no commercials on this network just announcements from each service. Mostly safety adds about not drinking and driving, resources available to the military to quit smoking or dipping, family services, and others. Each service makes their own so there is always a varied cornucopia of bad acting and poor fiming.Of course one of these commercials reminds the army about following the soldiers Creed. That got me to thinking. The thing is anyone can say they will do something when the time comes, but when it gets down to brass tacks, you just don’t know till your out there. I already know I don’t believe and won’t follow the soldiers creed. I know that might come as a shock to some of you, but I don’t believe it. Particually “put the mission first” that’s bullshit to me, that is propaganda they try to instill in you, I went to Basic training for over six months, and than another five months for Advanced Individual Training and they tried to brainwash you into believing that. But here, in the shit in Iraq.If my mission is to keep Iraq safe and it’s the choice of my life or THAT mission. Than I choose my life every time. But I wondered what they could do for publicly admitting you won’t follow the soldiers creed? Send me to jail for not believing something. They sure as hell aren’t going to separate me.The things is they try to brainwash you into believing this stuff, that your life is of less value than the mission. That there is a greater cause and value than your life. I do believe that, I do believe there are things and ideals worth fighting and dieing for. But this ain’t one of them. So what happens when you put soldiers in a position where they have to challenge and question their “own” creed, Because I know I am not the only one who believes this mission is not worth dieing for. Than you have soldiers with out a core, who are not commited to the fight. They are commited to coming home alive.This must be what the joes in Vietnam felt, who didn’t care about the spread of communism in southeast Asia. Maybe they couldn’t see the bigger picture, maybe they couldn’t see how it all interlocked. Or maybe they realize their life was more valuable than some general who likes playing Stratego.Its obvious to me why we are here, and not … say … in Dafur, Sudan where its expected hundred of thousands will die. If they found oil in Darfur than I am sure we would have a frago and be off to Darfur. It’s a sad reality that this country does what best for itself and there is no such thing as a truly humanitarian deed we do. Everything has implicit self motivating motives behind it. But lets not kid ourselves the comfortable lifestyle we all enjoy is a direct result of each and every choice our government has made. The saddest reality is that we have grown fat off our countries underhanded ways. A prime example is from the beginning, when we stole land from the Native Americans. The whole Western part of the United States was once agreed to be given to the Native Americans but we kept encroaching and destroying.Yes the Native American story is sad but honestly how many of you would be willing to pay the price of giving back the whole country to the Native Americans, seeding over all assets and economy. For obvious reasons, we wouldn’t , and the obvious reason is because we are comfortable and prosper from it. So many of us do not want to know about the slaughter of animals because it may ruin our appetite. We purposefully become naïve, we don’t want to know of the atrocities it takes for us to have cheap fuel or have food on our plate, or to have a home in America, or the cheap clothes on our back. All these things we purposefully shield ourselves from. We don’t even want to broach the subject of how our lifestyle comes about.If anything I am not a soldier for democracy I am a soldier for the status quo. I protect our freedom to massively consume at low prices, and preferably the products being consumed are American made. I fight for the American way of life and now I am becoming acutely more aware of what that actually entails. Each action has a reaction. We are so enamoured by and love the end result , we don’t want to find out how we got there.This American way of life needs to be changed and soon. I am not a fatalist that thinks we are in for ruin. But I do believe we are becoming misaligned in whats important in our country. So what to do. Many people know or think they know whats wrong with this country and love to talk about it but few give ready achievable answers. My suggestion is that all young people will have to commit to at least 2 or 3 years of mandatory service to the country usually after highschool, wether it be through volunteering locally or state, the peace core, houses for humanity, a legitimate non profit organization like red cross or through the military. The latter may surprise people that I would mention military, I am not for enforcing a draft but it would be an option for people who do not want to do charitable service. And the military role would be of course to defend the country but I would like to see a greater role for groups like the corps of Army Engineers to rebuild and enhance this country There is no reason why New Orleans should have been flooded and wiped out. The threat was there and no one took action, that is a blight on the whole country. It was not just the fault of the state of Louisianna. An expanded volunteer service in America that works on public projects works like that of new Orleans would One, and most important, improve our country and home. Second, it would give the young people pride in where they live Third it will give them skills and teach them a little bit about hard work (there is nothing wrong with manual labor, people should not snub their nose at it,) Fourth it will make them appreciate things that can not be bought with money, like community, hardwork, pride, and citizenship. When I say volunteer, I don’t mean without pay, I am sure we can arrange a stipend of money, and where three years of service can pay for the tuition of a 4 year state college. My love for America only grows while I am here, but seeing it from outside the borders has made some things more evident to me. A change needs to happen, a leadership change will not be enough, we need a cultural change.