Friday, July 4, 2008

Patty Kubeja Writes from Iraq on July 4th

My guest blogger today is Patty Kubeja. Last Fourth of July she was Relief Society President in Kent, WA. This Fourth she's in Iraq on a year's deployment, leaving behind a husband and their blended four children living in their newly-built family home.

Patty says:

It is already the 4th of July here, and my morning is just starting...that of course includes talking to my honey. I have a hand-head phone so I can multi task--talk and type. It was worth the $100 so I don't get a kink in my neck.

I started out my morning singing all the patriotic songs I could think of while I got ready for work. I decided not to have a TV in my room. I don't even have a radio/CD player. I try and enjoy the silence and quiet time. Walking out the door, it is amazing that now it seems cool outside--only 90 degrees when I check the handy wireless thermometer that Mark sent me. It really feels hot at 120, and that is in the shade, so I am sure the soldiers in the sun are feeling the 130-degree heat.

Thoughts about the 4th of July: I do have more patriotic feelings as I sit over here in the desert, thousands of miles away from family and friends. There won't be fireworks, parades, and the family gatherings that usually mark the holiday. But, perhaps it takes me back to the true reason we celebrate America's Independance from Britian.

The thought ran through my head this morning is one that is often on bumper stickers: Freedom is not free. I am in a position of rank and job that I have it pretty nice over here. I am not exposed to the elements and dangers that many of my fellow soldiers are. Many of the ones here are on their 2nd and 3rd deployment. Why? Because they see the conditions that the average person over here faces and are willing to fight for them to have a different life. At one point, our founding fathers were willing to fight for the future citizens of America, and because of that, we have freedoms many around the world don't enjoy. Day before yesterday, I went outside the wire for the first time in a convoy. I have taken one other trip, but a helicopter ride isn't the same as being in an Up Armored HUMVEE with mounted gun and a soldier watching guard out of the roof. It was a short ride to a base only five miles away, but along the way, there were little kids running along side the vehicles, playing and just being kids. They were oblivous to what really is probably going on in their own country, let alone in America. It is merely survival for them. They live in tents and mud huts with no running water or electricity, though perhpas a vehcile.

One soldier who makes this convoy run two to three times daily pointed out an old woman on the side of the road. He said she is there faithfully every day, no matter what the weather conditions, basically begging. Sometimes truck drivers throw her MREs. I am not sure there is any place for the homeless out here, or social programs. Probably not for the nomadic people who wander in the desert.

I know I am blessed and my children are blessed. As Americans, we are blessed beyond measure. It takes actually seeing the disparity sometimes to internalize and feel that overwhelming sense of gratitude and nothingness. I know that God loves those children and adults living on the side of the road in Iraq just as much as he loves me. I am not sure why being over here makes me more emotional; perhaps it is old age getting me.

Here is a quote my friend sent me that she carries in her wallet:

“Freedom has a price,
And always it is high.
Sometimes a man must give all he can,
Sometimes a man must die,
And give away all his tomorrows
To those of a future day;
Who will never understand the sorrow,
And the price that someone had to pay.”

Take Care..Happy Fourth of July!

Patty Kubeja

Return to the neighborhood

1 comment:

Candace E. Salima said...

"Freedom has a price, and always it is high." Truer words were never spoken. Liz, please convey my gratefulness to Patty for her service to her country. She is a true hero in my heart.