March 26, 2003

Hello there,

I'm writing to you today because I was given your address from a web site that provided information on GIs and how to write to them. As for myself, I spend my time writing computer code in the middle of Iowa. My older brother served in the first Gulf War, and he made it home safely. I hope for the same for you.

I have very little true understanding of what you might be doing right now. You could be hiding in a foxhole, waiting for the next round of fire from your opponents, or perhaps you are pausing for rest while marching through the streets of an Iraqi town. God willing, you are on a boat about to begin your journey home.

I also have very little understanding of why you are there. You are inside the borders of a country trying to topple the government within that country, but that nation has not taken any sort of direct action against ours. I fail to understand at all why our nation's leaders have chosen to invade another country and topple its government simply because it does not approve of that government.

But what I do understand is this: there are a lot of people watching over you, praying for you, and hoping that you make it home safely. I am one of those people.

You've probably heard word of large anti-war protests going on in the United States, or perhaps not. I wanted to let you know that the people are protesting against the government, not against you. When you return home, you will not be cast aside like the veterans from the last war that divided our nation. We have learned the lessons from that war, and we will not repeat those mistakes again.

Before I wrote this letter, I took a look at the words of the Declaration of Independence. I have a copy of the document hanging on my wall. While I was looking at it, a particular phrase jumped out at me, and I think it's appropriate to include it here:

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

When I read those lines, I understand truly the matters that you are defending. We are all entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in some way, you are directly defending these rights over there.

You have volunteered yourself to defend the government that was grown from these principles. The roots of the United States are found in those words above; by agreeing to serve, you serve a government that grew from this bedrock. Is this govenrment a rose that grew from concrete, or is it a weed destined to be pulled from the ground? Either way, it is this principle of choice that you are truly serving in the end, regardless of what is commanded of you.

You stand halfway around the world, marching across the desert in the name of a country I believe in for a cause that I'm not so sure about.

You are performing a great service for this country, choosing to expend your youth and energy for the causes determined by our government to be in the best interests of the United States. Regardless of your own personal feelings, you are serving the flag and the document.

I may not agree with the reason that you are fighting in Iraq. I may not like the logic that has resulted in you sitting on a sand dune, reading this letter as the threat of individuals defending their own government within their own borders hovers over your head.

But know this: regardless of how I feel about the motivations for this war, I sincerely pray to God for your safe return and when you do return, I will be in the front row of your parade, standing on the sidelines cheering along with thousands of others like me.

May God bless you and may His face shine upon you.

Sincerely yours,
18thCandidate


I sent this letter to a GI serving in the Persian Gulf that I do not know. After sharing this letter with a few members of the community, I was encouraged to post this as a node for posterity.

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