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The Tally Ho

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Letters Home

Since it is Veterans' Day...
from a NYTimes.com article today entitled "The Things They Wrote". Go read all three, if you're registered.

Excerpts from letters to his 2-year-old son and his wife from Sgt. Christopher Potts of the Army. Sergeant Potts, 38, of Tiverton, R.I., was killed on Oct. 3 in Taji by small-arms fire.
Hi my big guy. How are you? I miss you bad. I miss things like you calling for me in the morning when you hear me in the kitchen, or when you come home at the end of the day. I also miss cooking for you and Mom. But most of all I miss your big hugs. I enjoy hearing your voice on the phone and seeing the pictures you draw for me. I'm sorry for not writing you till now. But the days are very long here, and we only get about four-and-a-half hours sleep a night. I got up a little early to write this because I know you need your own letter too.
March 18
Hi my love. Well, where should I start? First we left Kuwait after being issued a combat load of ammo - M-16 ammo, grenades, smoke grenades, grenade-launcher ammo and C-4. I knew that night that this is for real. Some people paced, some people slept, some of us had to write the just-in-case letters, some just sat. The letter-writing was a real hard thing to do, it definitely makes you aware of the situation and your life. But you'll never have to read it - unless you want to when I get home. It's weird because I'm not afraid of what might happen, or the pain of it. I'm just afraid of not being able to see you again.
The first leg of the trip through the desert was really bad. There were children of all ages from God knows where begging for food and water. The dust was blowing all over them, and some had torn outgrown clothes, and some were barefoot. I looked over at my driver and we were both crying after a few miles. I said to him, You know, this is why I'm here, so that my kids won't ever have to live like that. Then we just drove in silence for a while.
As we got closer to Baghdad you could see blown-up military equipment, ours and theirs. People were on the side of the road selling gasoline out of plastic jugs. There was diesel and fuel spilled everywhere ... then you'd see some slaughtered lambs on the side of the road. The meat is hanging out in the sun and dirt and germ-infested air. Farther down the road there were people bathing and washing up. Other people were picking through garbage.
I hope today I can call. I miss you so much that as I write this part my eyes are
running. The TV in the mess hall said you got snow yesterday. I wish I was there to shovel. I hope you are being taken care of.

It's odd that they are running this piece today; I've always thought that Veterans' Day was more for the soldiers who lived through a war than for the soldiers who died in one. However, it's good for all of us to remember that this war is a personal as well as a political and military event.


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