I love the stories I hear as I “interview” these American soldiers and look through so many of their photos. Children love them leaders respect them teen-agers find themselves with the emotions of both. Picture after picture I see the soldiers directing building projects, handing out heaters in the Winter, bringing food and smiles to children, showing these people how to protect themselves and by example, how to think outside themselves.
Even after having been on this base for over 7 months, I realized I never knew exactly what it was these guys do after they go ripping out the gate. But they are camera maniacs, cataloguing everything they do, every step they take, every hillside they round. Just young boys, filled with the wonder of power beyond imagination (their Rambo dreams come true), restrained by purpose in a foreign and untamed land, shepherds to shepherds, heros to youth. Perhaps unaware of the destiny-shaping effects of their mission parameters, out they go, shooting more pixels than rounds. And I finally get a peek, a taste, a clue, and to pass some on to you.
Of course, I am unable to show you all the pictures I’ve received, but hope to represent them all with a few trailing these blurbs. And for all their candid shooting, I can’t find a whisper of an oil well or a story of how much crude we are shipping out of here. I can’t find a face where purpose doesn’t outshine fear, or where hope is overcome by any shadow of shame. The job they are given to do is, in essence, put Iraq back on its feet. Set these people up for success. Teach them and give them the things that are innate to our American culture: security, hope, education, direction, purpose. Oh, and did I mention: Friendship. And again, all this while under constant threat of a bullet in the back.
IS THAT COOL OR WHAT?
So I hope you will stare at these pictures a little longer. The more I did, the more I experienced some humble pride, if that’s possible, for some of the noble aspects of the work done here. The more I did, the more I saw soldiers helping, helping, helping. I seriously thought mostly of what soldiers did was shoot and be shot at. But now that seems to be only the things they must do while accomplishing greater purposes. But please, take a look for yourself and see what you think.