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CAN'T GET SPRING FAST ENOUGH: Shorts, skirts and flipflops: Students outside the TSC are eagerly awaiting the warmth that has been favoring Salt Lake City for weeks. / Photo by Josh Russell
Today's word on

Thursday, March 10, 2005

From the High School Free Speech Front:

"If they feel an article isn't appropriate, they will pull it -- or ask the student to make changes to it. They said that isn't censorship. They said they're just approving or not approving what goes in. What's your definition of censorship?"

--Hawley Kunz, co-editor of the Warrior News, Weber High School, Pleasant View, Utah. The principal ordered prior review of the monthly newspaper after an editorial critical of the condition of the school's running track. (3/8/05)

Letter No. 12: Birth of a new Iraq had its difficulties, but the child has a bright future

By David J. Jenkins, USU class of '98

February 2, 2005 | Hello everyone, Greetings from Baghdad . . .

The last couple of weeks have been intense, strange, interesting and exciting. We have been honored with being a part of a historical event, and helping smooth along the creation of a free Iraq. The seed has been planted and it may take time to take root and grow, but the process has begun.

With the elections past and a new cabinet in place here in Iraq, the question is, "Are the troops going to come home?" The answer to that is yes . . . and no.

Yes, we of the 1st Cavalry Division, 39th Brigade Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry will be coming home. Our rotation is coming to a close and we are making preparations for the transition back to our "regular" life, whatever that may be.

And, no. The role of the United States, in my lower-enlisted opinion, is much too important to pick up and leave. Would a parent up and move out because his or her child took first steps? I don't think so. This is the time to begin child-proofing the home and get ready to begin the process of developmental learning. Child development is not about ages, but stages. And, Iraq has just passed a new birth. The excrescence of dictatorship has been removed and a new developmental process has begun.

The U.S. Army may have a presence in Iraq for five, 10, maybe 20 years. The odds are that although the Oregon Army National Guard is leaving in the coming months, we shall return, like many of the units before us.

I had the opportunity to meet three soldiers at the Baghdad International Airport Base today. When asked how long they have been in Iraq, there response was, "one day." The thoughts of 11 months of missions came rushing back to me, and I couldn't help but to cringe. I looked at them and simply replied, "Well then, welcome to Baghdad."

These soldiers are with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg. Active duty soldiers who are carrying the weight of a prestigious past for a highly decorated unit. Although they just arrived in country yesterday, this is not their first stint in Baghdad. Nor, will it be their last.

With the elections behind us, we were able to take a little time yesterday to unwind and get caught up on personal matters. I took the morning to continue packing and prepare for a move in the coming week. No details as of yet to when that will be, or to where.

Having completed all that I could, I met with SPC Cole and we decided to walk to chow. Cole is an extraordinary individual with an incredibly strong faith. He is my closest friend here, and knowing him has made me a better person.

Cole is our platoon medic and is an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) for a fire department back in Oregon. He is also a volunteer fireman. His greatest joy is in helping others.

We made our way to the chow hall, and upon entering, made our way to the main line: rice, chicken, vegetables and of course a large helping of flan (it wouldn't be dinner without it). Cole stopped at the bread line while I located a table and found seats. The setup is cafeteria style with long tables and a dozen chairs on either side. I sat facing the serving line and watched as Cole dropped two slices of bread into the conveyor-type toaster. The two slices of wheat bread disappearing into the furnace.

I commenced to eating and a few moments later Cole sat across from me, his back to the serving line. As he began eating I noticed that he was eating an open-faced sandwich.

"What happened to the other slice of toast?" I asked.

"I don't know," he says, "it just disappeared." I conjectured that it must have gone to the same place as the socks that miraculously disappear from the dryer back home.

We sat talking, and a smell began to overwhelm us. Something was burning. I looked up in time to see the black smoke billowing from the conveyor toaster. My eyes grew wide as I watched the chow hall employee running for the machine. Cole, without turning around, sheepishly peered up at me as the machine burst into flames. He never had to turn around to know what had happened.

We both began to chuckle silently as we both sat there thinking, "Nice job, Mr. Fireman."

Best wishes,

David J. Jenkins

Click for Letter No. 1 and a photo of David J. Jenkins
Click for Letter No. 2
Click for Letter No. 3
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Click for Letter No. 6
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Click for Letter No. 9
Click for Letter No. 10
Click for Letter No. 11


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