As most are aware I’ve been state side for about 13 days now. My time has been primarily taken up with visiting my ailing father. He passed away yesterday morning. I was most grateful to be able to get home in time to visit with him and say goodbye. Towards the end it was difficult to decipher what he was trying to say to me but I was able to comprehend that he was proud of me for my service in Iraq. Truthfully, I couldn’t want for any more from him. I’m missing him already and we haven’t even had the funeral but I am content in knowing that he’s not suffering any more. I firmly believe he’s now in a better place and that I will see him yet again.
It has been great being back home even under the above circumstances. The air is clean, everyone is friendly, the food tastes great, and the wine is awesome. We are so fortunate to live in this great country where there is so much opportunity to excel and do whatever we want. I’ve just felt so good being back ever since I cleared US Customs in Los Angeles and the Customs Agent upon seeing my declaration, passport, and credentials came to attention and said “Welcome home, Sir.” Just doesn’t get any better.
I’ve been asked by many people if I felt the year I spent in Iraq was worth it and/or questioned if I would do it again. Although I need to attend to my Mother at this time, my unequivocal response is not only was it worth it but I would do it again in a second. There is no good legitimate reason why the Middle East cannot live in harmony except for the greed, arrogance, and fanaticism of a minority of the population. The Iraqis that I met and worked with were very warm, caring, and sincere people who just want to live their lives with some peace and happiness. The streets of Iraq are not filled with wild eyed, fanatically crazed, blood thirsty maniacs. However, the Iraqis are being victimized by a minority who mirror that description not physically but figuratively. Convincing the general Iraqi populace that peace and freedom are doable achievements and that they should not despair nor resign themselves to accept such an existence is neither easy nor will it come quickly. It is possible and if it can succeed, it will change the course of history. I am content in knowing that I played a part (however small and insignificant when looking at the total effort) in trying to make democracy work there and in removing a brutal regime. Perhaps I will have an opportunity to return in the future to assist in the same or a different capacity but for right now, I must direct my energies towards my family.
I only hope and pray that one day I might be able to return to Iraq to once again tour the streets of Baghdad and to travel to other locations with ancient historical significance when Iraq may once again be a place of beauty and a wonder to see. Hopefully, there will be a day when it won’t be necessary to travel there in an up-armored SUV, wearing protective gear, and armed to capacity to see the cultural and artistic contributions of all peoples that call Iraq home.
I hope all of you have enjoyed these little insights into my Iraq experience and I wish you all peace and prosperity in your futures. I also hope that our paths continue to cross.
With best regards to you and yours. Bob