"Our" Soldier

Mother’s Day was a lovely day, complete with breakfast-in-bed and a basket full of potions to help me look and feel smoother, silkier and—dare I say—younger?

However, one the more memorable part of Mother’s Day this year was the phone call I received from Iraq at about 11:30am.

You see, one of our homeschool groups has ‘adopted’ two soldiers who are loosely connected to other members of our group. Earlier this year, each soldier submitted a modest list of items they would like to receive from home and, once a month, one of the group’s members mails off a package to an unknown destination.

I offered to adopt one of the soldiers for the month of April. Of course, this meant that on April 30th, I was rushing to the post office to mail our package of soaps, candy, coffee and travel-size tissues. I also included a few pictures the kids drew of themselves holding “American” flags (Jilly’s flag actually more closely resembled Luxembourg’s flag, but she tried!).

Never did I expect that my small box of items would result in a phone call from that soldier, just two weeks after I had visited the post office. Our conversation lasted over a half hour, during which he described the living conditions (“I don’t have it too bad”, although what he considers decent would be my hell-on-earth), his view on how long the U.S. may need to be there (“10 years”) and what he looked most forward to when he returned (seeing his wife and daughter, going fishing and having good coffee).

He told me to thank the kids for sending him drawings; he even took a photo of himself holding their pictures and emailed it to me. I would love to post the photo but cannot, since I did not get his permission to do so.

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation. Here is someone not much older than me, who is facing snipers’ bullets, seven-inch spiders, dust storms and army food. . . and, for what? Having just seen a local Marine wheeled by me in a casket, I can’t help but feel some despair over this situation. Just thinking about the war, the mess we are in, makes me want to just turn away from it all and wait for it to be over.

But then, I read the words below. It was written by “our” soldier to a close friend in our homeschool group, telling her why the packages we were sending mattered to him.

They do make a difference to get something, anything from a friend, family member, a stranger. We’ve all been home for leave and have gotten to see the news and it’s like they have forgotten what we’re still doing over here. Then we receive these care packages and then we know, it’s just the news stations, not the people.
In just a few months, “our” soldier will be home with his family, hopefully for good. My kids cannot wait to meet him.

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