Monday, January 16, 2006
It's a very cold night here in Iraq. If I had to guess, I'd say it's in the thirties. I, being the glutton for punishment that I am, just returned from a run. My lungs are hurting from breathing the freezing air, my knees are aching and my legs are screaming. I couldn't feel any better! What I absolutely love about running, especially in the cold, is that it gives me an opportunity to push myself...it gives my body an opportunity to battle with my mind. The first shots were fired in tonight's skirmish as soon as I exited my hooch and sucked in that first lung-full of frigid air. I knew this was coming and stepped off before I could give my mind a chance to convince me otherwise.
This may seen trivial to some...this whole mind/body game that I play with myself. But every battle that my body wins over my mind makes me mentally stronger. And in my environment, mental fortitude is essential. There have been so many times here that I have wanted to give into my mind when it has told me to slow down or quit. Not an option. Please don't misunderstand me...I do not have a large red "S" painted on my chest, nor do I change my clothes in a telephone booth. I am not trying to portray myself as anything other than a simple man learning lessons about what it takes to be successful in combat and in life. Every one of these lessons that I learn, by God's grace, may save lives. It may in fact one day be my own.
Today, I saw some fruits of our labors here. As I was on a patrol with the Iraqi army, I saw large groups of children walking to school. Backpacks, books, and smiles. It was a real joy. I saw an American soldier help a young girl fix her shoe which had broke sometime on her way to school; 550 cord and duct tape will fix absolutely anything! It was moving. I have said all along that among other things, this is a generational war we are fighting. These young children will one day lead this country. Every simple gesture, such as what I witnessed today, will be a memory tomorrow that will eventually lead to our long-term success in this country. It has without a doubt been a collective effort, but I gained a real sense of personal satisfaction by what I witnessed today, and I hope and pray that tomorrow will bring the same.
There is currently a very expansive reconstruction effort in Iraq currently being conducted by the coalition forces and our leadership. In many respects and in many cities, we are giving a large number of Iraqi's better living conditions than before we arrived. It is an unfortunate fact of warfare that infrastructure is often damaged or destroyed to accomplish a mission. By helping to rebuild (and in some cases, build) this infrastructure, we once again show the Iraqi people our commitment to their stability and their country's independence. It is our desire to have the Iraqi citizens to row with us, not against us and this can only be when we convince them of our intentions and show that we are here for the long haul.
Sgt Cann was laid to rest today at Arlington National cemetery. His memory and dedication go with all of us who knew him. America is a stronger nation as a result of his selfless service. He will be missed.