I know, you’ve heard it a thousand times, “sorry I haven’t been around in a while, blah blah blah blah”. I have no real excuse for not blogging, other than fear or writing about something I shouldn’t and getting a nasty-gram from my chain of command.

Three years ago today I signed on the dotted line. The date was two days short of the two year anniversary of 9/11. I recently recieved an email from a friend of mine I met through ESPN’s now defunct Great Outdoor Games. I was sitting in class in college chatting with her online when suddenly she started freaking out (she lives and works in NY). I learned about it instantly from here as the events unfolded, before the rest of the world even knew what was happening. In her recent email she said, “It’s just nice to look back knowing that you have taken action on behalf of your country, that you have taken your feelings from the September 11th attacks and have actually DONE something to make a difference.”

I didn’t sleep for days after the attack on our country. I spent every minute on the couch glued to the TV. I slept, ate and lived there, watching in horror with the rest of my country while wondering who, and why someone could do such a thing. It was this giant slap in the face to our country that spurred thousands of young men like myself to take action in the following years and answer the call to defend our country’s freedom. Do I believe I am defending freedom here in Iraq? Yes. Do I think it is a worthwhile cause? Of course. I’ve given 18 months of my life to the cause.

While sitting around tonight, we were talking a little bit about what it’s going to be like when we get home. We’re not going to have a clue what has been going on in the world. Trends, fads, music, movies, TV, radio, the presence of family and friends again, getting accustomed to not wearing body armor when leaving the house, and not driving armored vehicles with loaded weapons everywhere; it’s going to be very confusing and frustrating. Getting back into the swing of things, I’m looking forward to college, but in a way I’m not. I’ll be the crazy old war vet sitting in class, giving scowling looks to the 19 year old who complains about writing a report, or having to read 50 pages, or how much books cost. They’ve never met people who come to their front gate to beg for food and water on a daily basis. People who walk barefoot across the desert in 130 degree heat just to try and sell you some worthless Saddam money so they’ll have money to buy food. They’ve never lived in a country that has known nothing but death, torture, and destruction from dictatorship. They’ve never met people whose neighbors were executed for speaking out against the government. They’ve never had their entire town or village buried in a mass grave. These are the hardships the people of Iraq have had to face over generations. Sure, I may whine about how bad the food is, how little sleep I get, or how bad the weather is here, but it’s nothing compared to these people. They live it every day. At the end of my deployment, I go home. They stay here, trying to make something out of nothing. There have been speed bumps along the away, and will be many more ahead. Things are getting better here. I don’t give a rat’s ass less about what you read on CNN, FOX, Newsweek, or any other large media outlet. They only see what they want to see. They only dish out the news they want people to here, even if sometimes it’s not even news. Life is better for the Iraqis because of us.

I believe in the cause here. I believe we are creating a better world by creating a stable region in the Middle East. I believe we are correct for finishing “unfinished business” left over from the first Gulf War. Most of all, I believe in giving these people freedom. Even if the term or even the definition is still vague or unknown to some people here in Iraq, its meaning is becoming well known. Out of tragedy in our own country comes a blessing to another. I do not regret coming here. I do not regret joining the military. If I should have to give the ultimate sacrifice while I am here, I know it is not in vain.

The anniversary of the Sept. 11th attack on our country is in two days. What have you done for your country?

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