Sunday, December 25, 2005
Some people would say that I am living a nightmare. Others might feel sorry for us out here having to experience such terrible things.
Back in Stow, my wife and two children are enjoying a Christmas today with both of our parents, our brothers, sisters, great-grandmothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and many friends. My family and our extended family are happy and healthy.
My son got to send me a picture of a snowman he made with Mommy in Grandma and Grandpa's back yard. Many friends and even strangers have selflessly volunteered time to help however they can with my family during my absence.
Out here, I have received numerous letters and packages from friends and loved ones making sure I know I am thought of. Many of the things we receive are from strangers wishing us well, helping us through the holidays.
As I look around the mission room, I see a group of men for whom I would gladly lay down my life. I see the pride in their eyes when they get to open a letter from home or a care package from a well-wishing stranger.
I see the hope, as we watch the results of this month's democratic election process in Iraq. I see the admiration, the pure and simple love, from the children of Iraq as they take a bite of a Hershey's candy bar from a soldier's pocket. The expressions of graditude from the Iraqi men and women who don't know English well enough to say ``thank you,'' but who want to so badly.
This isn't a nightmare. It is what we have all volunteered to do.
We never wish to be separated from our family and friends, but we know that with this calling comes the responsibility to serve something better than ourselves. The responsibility to fight for people who aren't able to fight for themselves and give them a small hope to have what so many of us so often take for granted. We are proud to be a part of it.
If I had a wish to give each of you for Christmas, it would be for you to appreciate what you have. Cherish your family, your friends, be thankful for your health and realize that no matter how bad a situation you may be in, there are blessings all around you if you take the time to see them.
God bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas and a meaningful New Year.
-U.S. Air Force Maj. Jim Ripple
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Somebody must have let Chip Bok edit the letters page this weekend. Thanks, Chip, or whoever let the letter through.
posted by Sydney on 12/25/2005 07:36:00 PM 0 comments