7.04.2007

A Letter from Iraq I wanted to share

I'm warning you now, this is a LONG entry and there's no freebie. My swollen face just isn't cooperating with my design wishes today. I'll put up a 4th of July freebie tomorrow I hope.

My hometown is a small town in lower NY in an area called the Hudson Valley. I live about 20 minutes from teh West Point Military Academy. When I was younger, we were unofficial sponsor families for several cadets. They've known me since I was 8 years old I think, and the "originals" (as we like to call them occassionally) are like big brothers. Back in 2002 one of the originals brought a current cadet to the house, Lane. My mom naturally gave him our phone number and told him to call if ever he needed a break from "the Point". Well boy did he start calling! Lol! He brought friends, who all got our number. They brought friends, who all got our number. 5 years later we still have several boys who routinely call and stop by. We've put together several graduation parties, had families stay with us when hotels got booked, trips to airports, driven to and from the Point more times than we could probably count. But we would never change a thing. Knowing all that, it's not hard to figure out where my patriotism comes from. We currently have at least half a dozen boys overseas, and other preparing to go soon. I don't "do" politics, but the war is never far from my mind. I don't care what your political stance is, the troops deserve to be supported.

And on that note, I want to share this email. The author graduated from West Point in either 2004 or 2005 (I think, so many have come through!) and it's a wonderful reminder of what we too often take for granted here in the good ole US of A. If you have the time, please read it and take the message to heart. I know I have on this 4th of July.

Happy 4th of July. I hope you all are enjoying the great American holiday with family and friends and of course, some good fireworks. As I sit here in Baghdad memories from 4th of Julys past occupy my mind. Great family barbeques in Syracuse, fun at Otisco Lake, rounds of golf and camp fires in the Adirondacks, fireworks overlooking the banks of the Hudson River at West Point- all of these memories are vivid in my mind. I can see the American flags flying proudly, hear the National Anthem playing and feel the pride of the American people. I am physically 7,000 miles from the States but a large part of me feels like I am home this 4th of July.
My favorite thing about the Fourth is the collective patriotism that encompasses the nation. Day to day, people in America take our freedom and way of life for granted. They don’t realize that we live under the best system in the history of the world. In America, we don’t fear an oppressive government. We can walk the streets and not worry about our safety. We can express our opinions openly and participate in our political process. We can practice religion freely. Most importantly, we have the ability and freedom to pursue our dreams. Americans are so used to having security and freedom that we sometimes fail to step back and see how good we have it. It is nice that at least once a year the nation pauses and acknowledges how fortunate we are.
My parents have always taught me to be appreciative of the blessings in my life. Through my experiences, I’ve found that you appreciate things more when you are separated from them. Being in Iraq is a daily reminder of how good we have it back home. As I patrol the streets of Iraq, I can’t help but think how much better life is in America compared to Iraq or any other country for that matter… For countless years, the people of Iraq lived in fear and were denied the basic freedoms that we enjoy so much in America. U.S. presence in Iraq has given Iraqis something they were vastly unfamiliar with- hope. The “new Iraq” is full of possibilities and in time Iraq will be a peaceful, prosperous nation.
Fredrick Douglas, a prominent figure in American history, once said “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle.” America, the defender of freedom, is currently engaged in a long, enduring struggle against terrorism. Every day in Iraq is exhausting and dangerous. Thousands of brave American soldiers patrol the streets of Iraq and fight terrorist here instead of in our homeland. For those who don’t believe the war in Iraq is related to the war on terrorism all they need to do is read the morning headlines. Every day there are terrorist and insurgents who show their dislike of America and her ideals by carrying out lethal attacks against American soldiers. Every attack validates their hatred of America as well as their determination to defeat us. America’s cause is just. And this battle against those who oppose freedom is one that we cannot lose.
I am thankful that I am an American and I am honored to be on the frontlines defending the freedoms and values that our nation cherishes so dearly. Whether you are in Syracuse, Boston, Columbia, Nashville, DC or abroad, I hope you enjoy our nation’s birthday. And this 4th of July I urge you to look around and soak in the freedom that permeates the air, freedom that not everyone gets to experience.
God Bless America,
Mark

2 comments:

alexis3700 said...

thank you SOOOOOOOOOO much for sharing this letter!

scrapsara said...

great post today!!