Although our media can't seem to see it and probably wouldn't recognize it if they did, good old-fashioned patriotism is alive and well in this country. And not only among those of us who remember other wars, put among the young men and women who took up the mantle of freedom and spread it on the sands of the Middle East.
Chris Missick is coming home and for that we are grateful -- at least we will be when we see him blogging once again; this time from his home in California. You may not remember Chris. I've referenced his blog from Bagdad several times in writing my observations about the war. Chris is a very special young man, an unusually talented writer with an interest in politics. With a little luck, he'll run successfully for a national office one day.
But now he's coming home. And this is what he wrote -- this is what Chris Missick wrote:
For those of you who read this, I want you to know I appreciate absolutely every word you have said. The support was overwhelming, and I am not ashamed to say that many of your letters brought tears to my eyes. Though my blog may have put a face and a name to what may seem like a faceless war for many of you, the e-mails, the care packages, the letters and the support put a name and sometimes a face as well to the heart of true American patriots. As I said to some of you, soldiers may be the fists of American might and goodwill, but you are all the heart and the backbone of America. You support us in our mission, you give us the strength to go on when the days seem so long you just want to throw up your hands and quit. It always seemed that letters of support came at the moments I needed them most, and they were always uplifting. Even the letters from folks who disagreed gave me strength, because I knew in those moments that what I was writing was being read and was having an impact. My mission was not to change hearts or even to change minds on the war, but merely to open minds as to what one soldier was experiencing, what he was thinking about, what was weighing particularly heavy on his heart.
The heart of America's patriots is one of the things I have discovered more than anything else on this deployment. Despite the rhetoric that seemed to go back and forth in the United States on the war, the one thing I am most proud of is the hope that the American people hold for those in Iraq. People from across the world may find it hard to believe that the world's greatest power would be willing to expend its treasure, and even more importantly some of its greatest citizens, just to help out another nation. Regardless of where we started with this war, I believe that this is where we currently stand. We are an incredible nation, I feel that in the depths of my bones, I can sense it in my spirit. Your support of us solidifies that sense, it shows me what being a patriot is, it encourages me to do the same when I return. I too plan on "Adopting a Platoon" once I am a civilian again, on writing letters of support to those soldiers currently away from friends and family.
When I first discovered Chris we exchanged emails on a subject or two and I asked him what his favorite cookie is, thinking I'd send him a batch. He answered "chocolate chip" but cautioned me not to send them because he had learned his unit would be coming home. Shortly after that he wrote:
In speaking with a friend the other night, he asked me what I was planning on doing when I got home. The answers probably won't surprise you. In thinking about what I wanted to do, I quickly transitioned to the things I'll be happy not to have to do. As a result, I compiled a small, rather tame list of 10 things I will be happy to leave behind when we re-deploy.
1. Walking what feels like a mile to the showers only to be covered in sand once you come back to your tent. Not running out of water when you're taking a shower, or having to use a bottle of water to brush your teeth.
2. Relaxing in July and August in the shade of 120 degrees.
3. The aggressive flies. At home when you swat at a fly it goes away. Here, when you swat at a fly, they seek revenge.
4. The smell. Everything here has a smell, from the sand to the air.
5. The generators, the constant hum of a generators, trucks, artillery shells in the distance.
6. Living out of duffel bag or black footlocker.
7. Checking your boots in the morning for camel spiders and scorpions.
8. The port-o-potties, especially in the summer. Using a real porcelain, clean toilet that flushes will be heaven.
9. Finding dead rats in the rat traps in the middle of the night.
10. Sleeping in a tent with 8-10 other guys.
Minor inconveniences they may be, but they are still things you look forward to leaving behind.
He hasn't deleted his blog, although he is on his way home now. If you haven't found Chris's LINE IN THE SAND, click here and read it. You'll be glad you did.
Welcome Home, Chris. Be safe.