I'm back home now, and I do miss the people of Iraq, but it's just as joyful being back home as I anticipated. Friends and family have reinforced the idea in my mind that it has been worth it to serve.
I still have and always will have a soft spot in my heart for the people of Iraq. I have seen that they have observed us and want to be like us. As Douglas commented to a recent post on this site: 'Freedom for the people of Iraq is just on the horizon.' They see it. They crave it. They will have it.
I'm back home now, so I'm no longer physically a part of the exciting struggle for Iraqi freedom. But I'm still on the sidelines, having changed from player to cheerleader. In that capacity, I expect to continue to furnish this web log with new insights and information far into the future.
We arrived in Salt Lake City at about 4 PM this past Saturday. My wife simply ignored the command that all people stay behind the yellow line on the tarmac and let the soldiers come to them, and I was grateful that she did. Of all the people who came to see me home, she obviously holds the largest place in my heart. It was a joyful reunion of best friends as we fell on each others shoulders and wept. I was grateful that so many of my extended family members could be on hand as well. It was back to old times as we went to an excellent Italian restaurant and ate and laughed to more than our hearts' content.
One of the more exciting events of the past few days was a ride on the city fire trucks last evening. My wife, along with the mother of a fellow soldier arranged for us, his wife, brothers, and sister, and my children to ride atop two trucks down main street and through various parts of town with sirens blazing. Reminisicent of when we went out in Iraq on convoy patrols, all of the vehicles traveling in every direction pulled to the side of the road to let us pass, most of them returning our waves of the hand.
The parade through town culminated in a reception at the city park, where, despite it having not been very well publicized, a great number of city residents turned out to greet us and thank us for our service. I think I was only brought to tears 4 or 5 times (that's pretty good for me) at seeing dear friends for the first time in many months. We thanked all those who had attended for being further proof that there is support for what we as individuals--and the United States military--had accomplished and are accomplishing in Iraq. We were able to give them a flavor of what missions we had performed while there. As well we answered their questions regarding what it was like to be away from the friendly confines of home. Service in the cause of liberty is a great character-building experience, not only for those who serve, but as well for those who support them and pray for them.
There seem to be too many things to get done in the short time that I have before I go back to my former job as a computer programmer. Actually, I think the problem is that this all does not yet seem real to me. It still lurks in the back of my mind that I am on Rest and Recuperation Leave and will have to return to Iraq in about two weeks. I'm trying to convince myself to relax--that there will be enough time to take care of everything in due course.
It was a herculean task that my wife, children, and I endured. At times it did not seem worth it. Looking back on it now, however, there is no question that it was. When the history books are modified to show a peaceful and prosperous Iraq, our little family will be able to take great satisfaction that we were part of it all--that I served, that my children were proud of me for doing so, and that my wife was gracious and loving enough to encourage it to be so.
Thank you as well to the majority of Americans that see beyond the petty politics and greedy griping to recognize Operation Iraqi Freedom for what it is: the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness for a greater number of God's children.