HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
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. 13: Quick and appreciative thoughts as they shut down the Internet cafe

By David J. Jenkins, USU class of '98

February 8, 2005 | Hello everyone, Greetings from Baghdad . . .

Our move must be eminent, for as I sit here composing this "Greeting." I was informed that the computer technicians are on their way to dismantle the Internet cafe.

I am not sure what to write about. I just felt it important to pass along a greeting to everyone while I still have the opportunity. I am certain that I will have other opportunities, but I just do not know for sure.

I wish to thank everyone for their continued support. It has been an interesting ride here in Baghdad, and I am grateful for the many letters of inspiration that have found their way into my inbox.

Each soldier has different motivations, and the one thing that has carried me through thus far has been my ability to communicate with so many of you over the past few months. This experience has made me a little wiser, a little more tolerant an d a little more perceptive.

Each time I walk across the patrol base, or drive through the streets of Baghdad, I keep in my mind, what do the people back home want to hear about? Although I am certain that any word from Iraq would suffice, I have strained to make my updates interesting and positive.

I believe, for those who began this journey with me, each of you can attest to the fact that I have become a better writer. My e-mail address book began with an abundant list of 17 people. To date, I just entered my 250th entry. I am certain that they must not stop there, for I still receive messages from people that I do not know, and thereby, the list continues to grow.

I have been honored to appear in several publications since this began. The Portland OOregonian, Hood River News, and a standing column at Utah State Un iversity has been kind enough to join me for this ride and share my perspective with their readers.

While here in country I have had the opportunity to meet many people that I otherwise would not have. I have made friends of fellow servicemen, a few locals and many people across our great nation that share a belief in freedom and honor and value the republic in which we spend our lives. I hope to carry on these friendships for many years to come.

I have also had the opportunity to expand my knowledge through college courses and Army correspondence classes. Although I already hold a Bachelors in English and Human Resources from Utah State University and a master's degree in physical education from Almeda University in Boise, I have been able to increase my knowledge base and to improve my writing through a program in journalism.

What is a shame, I suppose, is that many soldiers came here and put their lives on hold. They will return to the same job and have to re-learn everything over again, because knowledge is perishable. For lack of better phrases, "use it or l ose it." Many of these young men did not take this time to improve their lives; educationally, spiritually or physically.

In fact, there are quite a few soldiers who will return to go to college. How much farther along would they have been had they completed courses on-line, but did not take this opportunity.

I guess we all have opportunities that greet us each day, and it is said that . . . every opportunity is taken. If not by you, then someone else.

I am grateful to a master sergeant here in our battalion who inspired me to take classes. I am grateful to supporters back home who have inspired me to be a better writer. I am grateful for the letters from family and friends who have inspired me to reconnect with the "Heavenlies." Many who know me know that I am not a very "religious" person, but I find peace in knowing that I have a strong "Faith" and "Spirituality." I'll leave that to each of you to define for yourselves.

Whether there was a point to this, I don't know. But in essence, I am trying to say . . . "Thank you."

One of my biggest regrets in life was not being able to serve in the first Gulf War. I was serving with MWSS 473, Marine Air Group 46, MCAS El Toro, Calif. With the foreknowledge of a war coming. my unit sent me to a communications school at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, Calif. I finished number two in my class and I was awarded the opportunity to attend an advanced course. Our group was two days into that class -- it was Aug. 11, 1990 -- when we were notified that we were going to war. My unit left a few days later and I was not able to withdraw from class to join my unit. For this, I have always had a feeling of incompleteness.

I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to serve. I have had the opportunity to grow. I have had the opportunity to learn.

For those who are here in country now, take this time to improve yourselves. Take classes, pay your bills, work out and eat healthy. Your lives are not on hold. Who you were before deployment came with you, and who you are when you finish, will go home with you. Your lives are never on hold. Make the most of this time.

Col. Charles W. Edwards Jr. of the Multinational Division–North/Task Force Eagle, Chaplain states that, "We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are older. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we have more money, when we re-deploy back to the states, when we retire from the military.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D'Sousa, he said, "for a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, s ome unfinished business, time to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. Then it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time, and remember, time waits for no one . . . so stop waiting until you finish school, until you lose ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are out of the Army, until the fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die.

Decide now that there is no better time than right now to be happy. . . . Happiness is a journey not a destination.

No longer hopeful for a better tomorrow, I am grateful for a better today.

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
Click for Letter No. 4
Click for Letter No. 5
Click for Letter No. 6
Click for Letter No. 7
Click for Letter No. 8
Click for Letter No. 9
Click for Letter No. 10
Click for Letter No. 11
Click for Letter No. 12


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.