Archive for March 2008

How to Send Gifts to American Soldiers in Iraq

March 22, 2008

America The BeautifulImagine that you are far from home for an extended length of time. Imagine also that you have limited opportunities to speak on the phone with your mother, father, siblings, spouse, sweetheart or children. While you ’re at it, imagine you walk daily in harm’s way as you try to do what you believe in your heart is the right thing to do.

You have now placed yourself in the boots of an American Soldier. Not a pleasant fit is it? I know their being absent from loved ones is a stressful thing. And I know too, they carry this stress in their hearts as well as their minds. All the while trying to stay alive and concentrate on their mission. But they do it everyday, and they do it for us: those far away on American soil.

It’s never easy leaving small children for any length of time. But soldiers must do it and so they miss many of the first things their children do. The first word, first step, first tooth, first home-run, first recital and report cards each year. A Soldier gives up this and much more to serve his or her country.

They are not there for bonding and for sharing in the daily triumphs and failures of their child. Children grow so quickly that the mom’s and dad’s on deployment miss much that the rest of us take for granted.

Many Soldiers are not there when their children are born. How hard to know that half a world away the woman you love is giving birth to the child you helped to create and she is alone. The child is often several months old before the dad ever holds them for the first time. Can you imagine what it must be like, how it must feel, to hold your own child and them not know you? To see no hint of recognition in their eyes must hurt.

Can you imagine how lonely our Soldiers can be? Can you imagine holidays with no loved ones present?Do you know how grateful they are for any news from home: a letter, a card, a box of cookies? These things are a connection with home. And we can provide this for so little money and effort.

The Soldiers share the gifts they receive with each other. They are brothers and sisters in a way that we as civilians will never know or understand. They share the danger, the fear, the disappointments and they share the good stuff too.

I know these things because my son is in Iraq and he writes to me about his Solders. I send packages of love to him and to them and the feeling it gives to me is no less wonderful that what they feel when they receive one.

If you have never thought of sending a package to a Soldier or if you have, but don’t know how, now is your chance to make a Soldier smile. There are many sites online that will do it for you at a small cost. However, it is actually fun to shop for treats and package them yourself. It isn’t the item so much as the thought to the Soldiers.

There are also sites that will give you the name and address of a Soldier you can correspond with. Try this one, which gives you the opportunity to adopt a Soldier.

http://soldiersangels.org/

At the following site, you will find an article I wrote about sending gifts to our Soldiers in Iraq. It list items that can be sent and the few that are restricted as well as what is most requested by the Soldiers.

http://www.helium.com/items/826080

It doesn’t matter whether you support the war in Iraq or not. Sending a package says you support them: the men and women who serve this country everyday of their lives. It doesn’t cost a lot. Just a card saying you pray for them will be welcomed. Little snacks will be too.Take the time to give back a little something to the men and women who are giving their all for us as a country. You won’t regret it; in fact, it will make you feel good all over. I know, because I do it.

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An American Soldier

March 6, 2008

an-american-soldier.jpg

The following is an email my son sent me from Iraq where he is stationed. In the course of performing his duties, he travels the length and breadth of Iraq every month if not more often. During the four years he has been there, his eyes have seen it all, up close and personal. The good, the bad and the ugly.

How he or the other young men and women who are serving there, are able to function in such an area, is amazing to me. My heart is moved, each time he send me a fresh batch of photos. I am touched by the heroism and bravery of our forces. I am delighted by the historical and often biblical places he chooses to photograph. I laugh at the antics of Soldiers during their downtime, as they seek to find a lighter moment in a very heavy world.

But, I am most touched by the photos of the children that live in a war torn country. I wonder as I look at each small face if they will grow to adulthood. I wonder if they will have hearts that are filled with hate for America or if they will remember the kind Soldiers, who tried to help them and think this is what all Americans are like.

This picture says they will remember us with trust. However, if we leave there too soon and leave them to the fate that will surely await them, they will remember us with a raging hatred, because we deserted them in a time of need.

I wish I had his ability to write it all down with such eloquence. I could never make the words fall into the right order, as he has, when trying to explain what my heart knows to be true. So, read his words and try to understand that there is much more at stake than the bottom line of the cost of war. There is a way of life at stake, and freedom is not free.

An American Soldier 2/25/08

The Soldier in the above photo is not someone I know. In fact, I cannot make out the unit patch the Soldier is wearing nor do I have a clue where in Iraq this event occurred. But that is all as it should be, because I believe this to be one of those signature photos that define a war.

We’ve all seen the photo of the Sailor kissing the girl in Times Square at the conclusion of WWII, the photo that inspired the Iwo Jima memorial, and the footage and still photo of the execution in the middle of a Saigon street.

These images captured the essence of a war and the feelings and emotion that the war elicited. These types of photos do not necessarily bring about a good feeling about a war, but rather they serve to capture what the war is about…the meaning and the spirit. This photo does that, at least for me, about this war here in Iraq.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see debris from an explosion littering the area. It appears to have been taken in a market area and there are many civilians around. The Iraqi civilians are running away, but not the Soldier. He’s moving toward the danger and looks prepared to engage.

But obviously, the most meaningful part of this photo is the boy hiding behind the Soldier. He’s not running away either, but rather seeking safety behind the Soldier. He obviously trusts the Soldier enough to think that his odds are better behind the Soldier than running away. That is telling in my opinion. This is what this war is about…but many politicians don’t get it, and millions of American’s are equally clueless.

They would have us abandon our efforts and these people….cut our losses…say to the Iraqi people “we tried, but we just couldn’t do it”, or maybe “hey, we were wrong for coming and we’re out of here…this costs too much and we have other priorities.” I do not count myself among that crowd that feels this way.

Why we originally came here is debatable, but it is now an irrelevant and ridiculous discussion. It just doesn’t matter anymore. WE ARE HERE! Our actions left this country and her people unable to protect themselves from outside influences. Those outside influences (read Iran and radical Islamism) want to turn Iraq into an extreme theocracy, and that outcome would be bad for long-term American stability.

If we depart too soon, this country will surely drop into the abyss of civil war and the outcome is questionable. But whatever that outcome, we will leave looking inept and surely, no other nation will EVER trust us again in the foreseeable future, and that can’t be good for American security.

The world will point to the violence that is sure to follow our departure and rightfully blame us. The instability brought about by a premature departure of our military would almost certainly turn large parts of Iraq into a safe haven for terrorist organizations, and that too would be bad for American security. Departing now would also signal weakness to other rogue nations that wish us ill, and again…that would be bad for our security.

I say all of that to make the point that we are here now to further long term American security interest. Our uniforms say “U.S. Army” and we fight for OUR nation, not Iraq. But a residual effect is that we are protecting many people, like the young boy below, who would be victims of the violence that would follow are departure should we leave too soon. This boy obviously believes that the U.S. military is a force for good that will protect him. Otherwise, he would hide behind the Soldier.

So back to why this photo was so striking to me. We can’t tell who the Soldier is, nor even what unit he is from. He is just a Soldier, like the Sailor in Times Square…unknown, but yet representative of the many thousands of other Soldiers. He is not running away, nor does he appear to shrink from whatever danger is nearby. He appears to embody all we as Soldiers hold to be important; bravery, valor, and the willingness to stare down the enemy where he chooses to show himself.

A picture says a thousand words. I guess I added another couple hundred here 🙂

Love, ______