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Old 09-09-2003, 05:59 AM   #1
J.J.
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Join Date: March 1, 2001
Location: Montana, USA
Age: 55
Posts: 1,217
Hi everyone, wanted to share this letter from my little sister when I realized that I have heard nothing about the re-building she writes of, or how complete the lack of so many things we all take for granted... appreciate your freedom to work, learn, and pray where you wish.....peace.JJ


I just wanted to take a few minute to say hello from Iraq. I've been out of touch lately due to a lot of travel and a crazy work schedule. I hope everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend and some of you managed to drink an ice cold beer for me. We're on a "dry " deployment, no alcohol and it doesn't look like that is going to change for the year we're going to spend over here. Fortunately time is passing quickly and at least for me, there hasn't been a dull moment yet. I spent part of my Labor Day weekend facilitating 2 full production crews for CBS. Dan Rather and a crew for 60 Minutes II and another crew for the Evening News came over to cover the the military's operations here in Iraq. The evening news pieces will air Tues and Wed and then the 60 Minutes II will be in a week or two.
I hope they will choose to show some of the really great work that our soldiers are doing over here, instead of just the patrols, raids and the hunt for the bad guys. Don't get me wrong, we are still in a war over here, we are getting shot at every day, but so much more good work and progress is being made toward rebuilding this country that was absolutely run into the ground by Saddam Hussein. Every facet of Iraq's infrastructure, public works, commerce, health care, education, economy and industry was neglected, ignored or destroyed over the past 20 years. the Iraqi people have not known anything except war, oppression, brutality and terror for 30 years.
Contrary to what you hear on the news, the majority of Iraqis are happy we're here and want us to stay and help them rebuild their country. We are committed to that mission as well.
We are starting our 3d round of provincial elections this week. This time it will be the government for the Sahl Ad Din province in which the government seat is here in Tikrit. It will be a busy few weeks, but an incredible process. We literally have to start the delegation convention teaching the Iraqis the concept of a free elections. When the old regime held Saddam's "election" those who were chosen to participate were given a ballot with his name already checked. The voter carried the preamarked ballot to a box and dropped it in. That is their only concept of an election. It usually takes until the second round of elections once the delegation has voted for a provincial council and the council then votes for the Governor and Deputy governor for them to finally understand. The first suprise is when the delegates who are voting for the provincial council are given a clean ballot with no blocks checked. The second is when they fill out the ballot and realize it is a secret vote and no one else knows who they voted for. At this point they are still skeptical and believe the vote is fixed. Not until the second day when the council votes for the Governor and Deputy Gov. and the process is repeated and this time the ballot box is kept in the same room, opened in front of them and the votes counted on the spot does the light bulb go on in their heads. Its almost impossible to describe the play of emotions that cross their face in a matter of seconds - distrust to confusion, understanding then back to disbelief, then finally comprehention of the process and the unabashed joy of having the freedom to choose their future for the first time in their lives. I wish every person in the free world could experience the moment. Democracy at its birth is amazing.
I could spend hours telling you of all of the tremendous work being done just in our area of operations, but since I do want to get some sleep tonight I'll just give a few highlights.
We are rebuilding 151 schools throughout our area of operations before classes start in October. The majority of the schools and hospitals were used for ammunition storage facilities or taken over for use as militry headquarters. Most of them have no working plumbing, no chairs and desks, and all of the windows have long since been broken out. They don't even have chalkbords. We're changing all of that. We've started an adopt a school prgram with all of our units and "Operation Pencil Box" is in full swing. We have schools in Texas collecting school supplies that we
are going to ship over here so all of the kids can start out the year with notebooks, pens, pencils and basic supplies.
We've refurbished and rebuilt 11 hospitals and 67 health clinics, rebuilt 11 water treatment plants, hired and trained over 6,000 Iraqi police, kicked all of the corrupt Ba'ath Party members out of the judicial system and completely restructured their justice system. We're due to open seven court houses next week that had to be rebuilt form the ground up, and our military lawyers will provide oversight of Iraqi judges to ensure they don't revert to old corrupt ways. The electricity is on and power plants, gas stations, sewage systems, roads, bridges, playgrounds, youth centers, railroads, and communications system are being built throughout the country. We have 678 improvement projects in progress right now. All being done by soldiers and Iraqi's working together.
We will continue to hunt the bad guys and and either destroy or neutralize those subversive elements trying to hinder the coalition's efforts, and keep the terror of the former regime alive.
It is heart breaking when one of our soldiers is killed or loses an arm or leg or eye to an attack by these terrorists and it is by far one of the most difficult parts of my job in dealing with media when all they care about reporting is how many soldiers have been killed or wounded. You hear that the number of attacks are rising, that simply isn't true. Attacks in our area have dropped by alomost 50 percent. Be very proud of our troops over here. They are acomplishing so much. Don't let the negative headlines lead you to believe for one minute that what we're doing over here isn't right, or a waste of time, money and resources. I'll keep working on my end of it to hopefully bring the media round to showing the world the progress, continuing hard work being done by both Iraqi's and Coalition forces and the hope that is alive in a country that hasn't had anything to hope for in the past 30 years.
I'm off to bed, thanks for all of the e-mails, packages and letters. It is wonderful to hear from you. Your letters are never boring. You would be amazed at how exciting it is to hear about a trip to Wal-Mart! Thanks for all of the support!
Enjoy the Fall, we are enjoying a break in the temps as well, it was only 116 today. [img]smile.gif[/img]
I hope this letter finds you all well. I miss you all very much and I'm looking forward to seeing you again when this is over.
Cheers,
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Old 09-09-2003, 06:22 AM   #2
The Hierophant
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Join Date: May 10, 2002
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Age: 36
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aaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Isn't life just dandy? I just wanna go hug a teddy bear right about now.
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Old 09-09-2003, 06:33 AM   #3
Harkoliar
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Join Date: March 21, 2001
Location: Philippines, but now Harbor City Sydney
Age: 35
Posts: 5,556
at least there is real progress going on. i guess the media overblew it again which is not surprising..
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Old 09-09-2003, 11:12 AM   #4
Sir Taliesin
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Join Date: March 4, 2001
Location: Knoxville, TN USA
Age: 55
Posts: 1,641
The media often does! Troops getting blown to smeetheens, demostrations and military raids sell more commericals than troops building schools, hospitals, roads and infrastructure. But you can watch the news anywhere, any night and think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, when it's really not. People would rather here the sensational. If the whole Iraqi population hated us so, then there'd be a lot more killed an wounded everyday. National Public Radio ran a story much like this the other day.

The Hierophant, your comment seemed a little over the top. After all it's not your relation that's in harms way. Might want to think about that next time. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-09-2003, 11:20 AM   #5
The Hierophant
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Join Date: May 10, 2002
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sir Taliesin:
The Hierophant, your comment seemed a little over the top. After all it's not your relation that's in harms way. Might want to think about that next time. [img]smile.gif[/img]
Yeah, well, I'm sorry that it seemed over the top to you...
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Old 09-09-2003, 12:03 PM   #6
Reeka
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Join Date: March 2, 2001
Location: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Age: 64
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JJ, thanks for sharing that letter from your sister with us. That is the story that we don't hear in the media. I am also very glad to know that she remains well and safe.
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Old 09-09-2003, 12:33 PM   #7
Donut
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Join Date: March 1, 2001
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Sounds like she's doing a good job there j.j. Nice to hear about the good stuff going on.
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Old 09-09-2003, 01:26 PM   #8
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Join Date: March 1, 2001
Location: Upstate NY USA
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I'll echo Donut here! It's very nice to hear from someone who cares and is doing their job as well as they can under the circumstances!

And really glad your sibling is ok, JJ! [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-09-2003, 05:36 PM   #9
Mister Natural
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Join Date: January 25, 2002
Location: St. Louis
Age: 61
Posts: 165
There needs to be more coverage of stories like this in the media. All we hear about is all the bad stuff going on and no progress being made whatsoever it seems. Everyone needs to write the major news channels and tell them we want to hear what kind of progress is being made.
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Old 09-09-2003, 07:06 PM   #10
wellard
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Join Date: November 1, 2002
Location: Australia ..... G\'day!
Posts: 6,123
Quote:
Originally posted by Mister Natural:
There needs to be more coverage of stories like this in the media. All we hear about is all the bad stuff going on and no progress being made whatsoever it seems. Everyone needs to write the major news channels and tell them we want to hear what kind of progress is being made.
Well said that man! [img]graemlins/heee.gif[/img] It's great to get an inside update like that.

J.J. tell your sister to keep up the good work and stay safe [img]graemlins/awesomework.gif[/img]
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