Monday, January 28, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Wow, time does seem to go slowly over here. It is hard to believe it is still January - except for the fact that it is colder here than it is back home - oh yeah and the snow. First time it snowed in Baghdad in 70 years. It didn't accumulate at all - but still, the white stuff came down on us. And as far as I know, nobody ate any yellow snow. Although, some people were caught running around like little kids - catching snow in their mouths. Although we did have one guy slip and fall on some blue "porta-pottie" ice.
A Different Christmas Poem
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
Monday, January 7, 2008
Had our own little new years celebration at midnight on new years, complete with noise makers and non-alcoholic beer. Including 'beer' chugging contests and the like. I guess you make due with what you have. The celebrations in the DFAC where the same as for Christmas, so nothing new there to report.
The pics above are pretty typical of our traumas, kind of like organized chaos. Actually runs pretty smoothly now - everyone knows their job and what needs to be done and just makes it happen. For the medical types, I can share pics of some of the injury at personal request. Not the kind of traumas we tend to see in the states.
For most of December, we had an AP photographer/reporter 'embedded' with us. It was an interesting experience - for one, because we could get as much information from her as she took from us. So learned a little about what life was like outside our little FOB, what the soldiers are actually going through and how the locals seemed to be reacting. It was also nice to be able to interact with a civilian in a normal manner, not have to worry about rank, and what position they are and all that. Anyway - her name is Maya Alleruzzo - and she has a fair number of pictures published (best way to find them is to look in Yahoo news images, and search for her by name - there are about 30 of her pics from the CSH published in various sources that pop up). Unfortunately/fortunately, I am too ugly for the camera and did not make it into any published ones, but many of our nurses, medics, and the two other ER docs did (Todd Baker and Marti Roellig). She gave us copies of all her pics that she took when she left and made a small collage that is below - I can send people the PDF if you can't see the collage.
The big excitement back home is that the Cohens are now a minivan family - much to my dismay - when I return I will be driving a blue minivan. Laugh all you want, but well, I would laugh at me too. But I guess it is practical and makes things easier for Amy. So we will blame it on her.