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Today's word on

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Those were the days:

"The way I had it is all gone now. The bars are
gone, the drinkers, gone. There remain the smartest, healthiest newspeople in the history of the business. And they are so boring that they kill the business right in front of you."

--Jimmy Breslin, newspaper columnist, 1996 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jim Doyle)


Letter No. 8: Tracers light the sky, but we have survived the holidays

By David J. Jenkins, USU class of '98

January 12, 2005 | Hello everyone, Greetings from Baghdad ...

We survived the holidays -- literally. We are still here in Baghdad, but things are a little different with the arrival of a new year. We do things here in Baghdad the same as other places . . . only, different.

New Year's Eve was a sight to see. A few of us went up on the roof of our building to watch the new year come upon us. To the east, north and right outside our fence to the South, we could see the steady stream of tracer rounds light up the blue-black sky. Shots of light, like fireflies, dancing into the darkness, giving the path of fire for the small arms rounds.

We looked off into the western sky and just past midnight, two thumps and flashes could heard and seen as the sky turned a brilliant green from 155mm illumination rounds.

Off to the south, smaller illumination grenades could be seen painting the sky with dots of white.

A new year is upon us, and we are all anxious to make the most of the months to follow. Some of us are on the verge of returning to the States. Others, have just arrived. In either case, we are all eager to do our best to be successful in all of our endeavors.

I am happy to announce that we have been asked to pass word to family and friends that as of 15 January 2005, to please not send any more mail our way.

This is not a guarantee that we are returning soon (although we still have hope), but that we are making preparations to return with the hopes of not being extended. We have received no word as of yet regarding rotations or extensions, so we are making plans to return home based on original orders.

Also, I have been notified that a sergeants slot has been located and that I am the next soldier on the list. The necessary paperwork is being processed, and I hope to be wearing my sergeant's stripes before we return home. As the locals say, In Shallah (if it be God's will).

I was asked about the upcoming elections. As you must all know by now, I am not one to delve to deeply into politics, but I did find the results to the following question interesting. Are you voting in the upcoming elections? I have asked at least 25 locals this question -- shopkeepers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and interpreters. The common answer has been that they are not sure who is IN the elections. They don't know who the candidates are, or what they stand for. It was difficult to listen to their frustration.

We were on patrol the other day and as we made our way through the streets of Baghdad, we could see that the election billboards have just begun popping up around town. Giant billboards of black, with an immense hand gripping a ballot and placing it into a ballot box. The ballot box is emblazoned with the Iraqi National Flag. The ballot has the flag's colors sweeping across the backside.

The hand is weathered and worn, the hand of a tradesman, a working-class citizen. The person's arm hidden by the sleeve of a black suit coat. There are too many analogies and far too much symbolism here. I will leave this to your imagination.

There is word that we may be moving to another location in Iraq before our tour is over, but I am not privy to that information at this time. We are here to do our job, and are willing to go where we need to go in support of our mission. I just see this as another step in the direction of home.

We are all grateful for the phenomenal support from everyone back in the States.

In spite of the differing opinions regarding this war, there has been little said in opposition to the troops. I cannot express my gratitude to everyone, enough.

Thank you all for everything, I am looking forward to your continued correspondence.

Best wishes,
Spc 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



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