As the wife of a retired GI and mother of two GIs, I wanted to share a letter I read from the "Bear Facts," a Missouri National Guard newsletter.
My husband served in Vietnam and both my sons served in Saudi, so I have experienced this firsthand. The homesickness the people feel who are serving in Iraq, so far away, can be read between the lines of the letters they write home and the soft-spoken words on those rare phone calls.
If you want to do something to let these men and women know how much you appreciate their fighting for the free air you breathe, then contact Dixie Rolwing to make a donation of hard candy or ice cream mix to Coalition Charlie at (573) 683-6181. Think of your husband, wife, son, daughter or cousin as you read this letter.
To my fellow patriots:
As I sit here writing in this hostile land, I wonder if these thoughts will reach you. Not so much in the physical sense, but more on an intellectual and emotional level. I hope that my simple words will somehow find their way into your busy hearts and minds.
I suppose you are wondering just who "I" am. Quite simply put, I am an American soldier, but I am much more than you might imagine. I am a friend and a son, a student and an athlete. I am a teenager, an adolescent and an adult. I am much like you: with one very distinctive exception - I am in Iraq. My name is Joshua Eckhoff. I have been "in country" now for over three months and I have learned a few things along the way.
I must share with you want I have come to now as two of the most powerful forces in the world today - kindness and hope. Unlike the divisive power of bullets and bombs, the power of kindness and hope comes from bringing people closer and reminding us that we are all in this together.
As a soldier, I have been exposed to the evils and horrors of war. However, I have also experienced the effects of endless kindness from my family, my friends, my teachers and from total strangers. I have received endless support and been showered with kindness, but the greatest gift these people have given me is the gift of hope. Hope of a better day, hope of coming home and hope of having the opportunity to return the kindness that has been to selflessly shown to me in the months that I have been gone.
Now, it is my hope that I can pass the importance of my realization on to you. I challenge you to shower those around you with kindness, not only your friends, but more importantly, your enemies. Sometimes, the simple kindness of an honest smile can provide someone with just enough hope to make it through the day. You never know the effect that your kindness has on certain people, but know this: a kind word or act often inspires hope in those who need it most. I have seen the glimmer of hope in an Iraqi child's eyes, and I assure you that hope, like kindness, transcends cultural and racial barriers. In this time of war, I challenge you to show unconditional kindness to those around you and to inspire hope in every life that you touch.
I hope these words find their way across the miles. I hope to make a difference. I hope to inspire. I hope to have the opportunity to be kind. I hope to see you all again in good time. I hope!
- Spc. Joshua Eckhoff, 1140th Engineer Battalion Missouri Army National Guard