Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2004 05:37:58 -0400
Within the past year, I married a beautiful woman, the woman of my dreams. I wanted to give her a home and life that she could be proud of. My wife, Candi, and I visited several cities within Texas trying to find that picture perfect city.
Candi and I liked the Lindale community, so much that we found and purchased a home a couple of miles outside of Lindale. Both of us are proud to be referred to as Lindale residents.
Not too long after having moved to Lindale, I received an opportunity to once again serve my country, only this time it would not be as the U.S. Marine that I once was. The opportunity would be to serve in an advisory capacity to assist in the development of the criminal justice system in Iraq. I have been in Iraq since March and am now making plans to return home, so that I can take my beautiful bride on our honeymoon.
Upon any persons arrival here in Iraq, each person is required to complete certain functions. One of which is to obtain a security I.D. card from the governing office. As I entered the office, I was amazed to find that people from all around the world had literally signed their name or some type of logo from where they were from onto this wall. After going through the rigorous I.D. process, I soon found myself on top a chair, balancing myself so that I could write "Lindale Texas" on this now famous wall.
Attached, you will find pictures of this area, and I look forward to the day that I complete my task here in Iraq and find myself back in my beautiful home-town of Lindale, Texas.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. God Bless!
Date: Wed, 06 Oct 2004 14:59:52 EDT
Glad to hear from you, and yes it is wonderful to be home. Since I have been home, I have focused on many things that most people overlook here in the United States. I have seen every beautiful sunrise and sunset since my return from Iraq. Not that Iraq does not have those things, but the sight and smell of the trees, hearing the branches of the trees rustling from the wind, all of these things, makes up the a beautiful and memorable environment that I miss with all my heart. I can't believe the feeling of excitement, as I first drove into Lindale, seeing how it has grown in my absence, walking into the store, and observing the friendly people, seeing my beautiful hometown, it has been well worth waiting for.
I am to return to Iraq this Saturday, a day that I have been dreading but knowing it would come. I am torn, in that once again I leave my wife and daughter, but yet I am to return to a team of wonderful and committed Americans that have volunteered to give their time and experience. There is never a day that one member of our team fails to give their all to ensure that our mission does not fail.
I've occasionally turned on the television to find the debate going on, and am astonished and appalled at the behavior of our presidential candidates. I have also been disappointed that there has been very little mention of the wonderful things that ALL the American people serving in Iraq are conducting. I hope that one day, these things will be publicly displayed so that our efforts do not go in vain.
I have taken many pictures during my tour in Iraq, and can tell you that Iraq is nothing like any country that you can imagine. The pictures that I will send you, can not begin to piece together the puzzle that gives the definition of Iraq. I have at many times attempted to explain to my family Iraq's environment, and despite my efforts, I feel that I simply touched the surface.
I too, hope that you and I can keep in touch. Thank you for your kind words, and I look forward to the day that I can open my eyes in the morning to say "I am home for good".
Wanted to drop a line, to say hi and to inform you that all is well here in Iraq. Despite the ever growing hostile environment in the surrounding area of Baghdad, this past week (election week) has been strangely quiet. For whatever the reason the silence, I am grateful that people have not been hurt or killed.
The Iraqi people are excited about President Bush winning the presidential election. I am thirty-nine years old, and up until the last couple of days I have never been congratulated on the new president for our country. However, yesterday I was told by seventeen Iraqi's "Congratulations for your President, you must be proud."
Several days ago, I was walking around the compound conducting a security audit. As I was speaking to my Iraqi counter-part, I was startled by someone grabbing and holding my hand. As I looked down, I saw the cutest little Iraqi boy, who looked just like an angel sent from above. Although he could not understand a word that I was saying, I picked him up and began asking his name (while I looked for his parents). I finally found his name to be little Mohammad, and his mother worked nearby. After observing little Mohammad, several of my co-workers and I noticed that he appeared to be extremely skinny for his age. (You could literally see his ribs!)
My boys and I began bringing food back from the chow hall and giving it to Mohammad so that he could eat until he was completely full. I guess little Mohammad went home and told his older brother, because the next day his older brother came to eat as well.
Needless to say, little Mohammad has become my new shadow, and each time he runs into my area and gives me hug, he places a smile on my heart and soul. (see attached picture)
I hope that one day little Mohammad grows up and tells his children about the many great American people that he met in 2004.
Well Ralph, I suppose that I will close for now, and get back to my personal time, I have been intending to send my wife something, but have not made time to do so. So I guess I had better close and get that done.
Take care my friend.
© 2004 - OBRA SERVICES, Internet Division, Lindale, Tx
All photos © Thomas Hopper, Lindale, TX