It has been a while since I sat before this machine and put thought to writing anything of substance. I was wandering in the dark if you will. My spirit hadn't been broken, but it felt like I did in junior when Scott Helt beat me up during gym class. Then something happened, well, to coin a phrase from Monty Python, "Suddenly nothing happened." There wasn't any one thing, it was a combination of things, that pulled me from the hole I was in. The situation here at Battalion, simply is. The war in Iraq, continues, and as December draws nearer my anticipation for the elections grows. My life at home is still on hold, but as each day passes by I am closer to something better than being here. The anger I had over the situation here has been replaced not with indifference, not with scorn, it has been replaced with the passage of time. After being angry for so long in life, there comes a time when you look over your shoulder and can't really remember why. Yesterday was that day. Naturally in my minds eye I know why I was so bitter, but yesterday it dawned on me, it doesn't really matter.
It is a simple thing to reach out for help, and the hands that are often thrust out to render help come from the strangest places at times. In this place a friendship that will last a life time can be made in the simplest of ways, sharing a drink of cold water on an abysmally hot day. Making someone laugh when they are down, patting a stranger on the back who looks at the end of his rope. For me it came with a conversation about all the things we aren't supposed to talk about with locals. There is an interpreter here I'll call him Jim, I have come to appreciate this quiet and peaceful human being, and over the last few months I have come to call him friend. I asked him the other day why he had worked here so long, and how he could face the dangers of being an interpreter so calmly. I urged him to quit if for no other reason than to see him die, would tear at me. Not like when a soldier dies, as a soldier you can respect it as a fallen warrior, but to see civilians die here for no reason is tragic. "Jim" looked to the ground, and and thought about the question for a long time before he answered. He smiled at me, and put it into words that we can all understand. "This is my country, wouldn't you do the same?" I just started to laugh, I am truly going to miss this man, I will pray that no harm ever comes to him or his family. If men like him were in power here we would be home by Christmas (My favorite wartime rumor).
Tonight we got some bad guys, and turned them over to the MPs, for proper processing, into the correctional system here. Again looking at these Jihadists, holy warriors, terrorists, criminals etc... was not unlike looking at criminals in the US. Flesh and bone, human beings. Who even in flex cuffs with no chance of escape glared in contempt at us, seeing your enemy alive and in the flesh puts a different perception to him. It humanizes what you don't wish to see as human. Yet, in the end of this thing despite ideology, despite religion, despite the banner under which you pledge your allegiance the blood in all our veins flows red (don't get me wrong here people, this is a war. If it was me or him out there in the "red zone" I would drop him where he stood then forget about him before he was cold. But seeing them there like that, I wouldn't say it was pity, but it was just "something"). As the detainees were sitting there awaiting what came next a medic was giving them water, it was fresh and cold and many of them seemed surprised by it. Others still seemed surprised to be alive, how could these Godless infidels understand compassion. I was looking at one of them and he was looking right back at me, it was no more than 15 seconds, before he was moved in for processing, but as he stood there was an explosion. It was no more than 300 feet away outside the FOB wall, but all of the detainees were startled by it. some crouching as it expecting to be pelted by debris. The veterans standing there the men of the infantry barely even turned their heads towards the sound. A young soldier looked at the motley crew of "former" terrorists and bellowed; "What, you shoot at us and drop IEDs on the road to kill us and a little boom scares you!?" He stormed off in disgust, his buddies laughing and chasing off after him. It got quiet there, and I found myself alone in the parking lot, standing there in the still of one less Iraqi night.
The temperature is dropping now, and I find that my mood is directly affected by the drop in temperature, as it gets cooler here my mood improves. I have never been a fan of the Summer, especially here. Soon it will be cold, and by cold I mean 60's and I can't wait. But as with all things Army, Murphy's law will be in effect, so as it gets cold the hot water in the shower will too.
Pray for New Orleans, donate money, clothes, time. They are Americans and they need your help. Despite the blame game going on (which is pathetic), rise above it and help.
Don, much appreciated.