Here is a letter my cousin sent me this morning along with some touching pictures with an email he forwarded. I'm not sure if I will be allowed to keep up this whole post with the pictures he sent with the email. I know this is an email that makes its way around the circuit but after reading his letter it really makes it that much more special. Prayers to all the soldiers fighting anywhere in this world! Good morning loved ones, I don't know if the attachment will open or not, if it doesn't I want all of you to know that I feel honored to be able to serve in the military. I was greatly moved by the message since I don't have to suffer as many of the guys in the field do. I live a very safe and protected life here in the embassy compound in Baghdad. It's only when I go to the hospital or see the MEDEVAV helicopters overhead that I feel any direct connection with the fighting in the streets. Many of the Iraqi soldiers I work with have been wounded, their families threatened, and are unsure of their future. We have so much to be thankful for in The Untied States. We, in my unit are hoping to leave here in the middle of February; now that I've written it down the date may change. Everyone here is a little superstitious about dates right now. The problems here are so vast and deep that it is hard to believe that they will ever end. It seems a little odd that it takes a Christian nation is to save a Muslim nation. Throughout history we have always been at odds with each other. I hope you are all well. If it weren't for the situation here, the urgent nature of the work, and the serious look in everyone's eyes I would think I was at a remote training site. The food is good (thanks to the embassy), I have a gym and swimming pool, laundry service, and share a trailer with another guy. I'm reminded every day that the soldiers outside of the Green Zone are fighting side by side with their Iraqi counterparts. We here in headquarters are working hard to make it all work. The people are the most discouraged because they only have a few short hours of water and electricity, and can only shop when not threatened. The civilians take the most casualties. In the past month the killed in action numbers are about 900 civilians, 50 US Military, and 200 Iraqi Military (I'm not allowed to give actual numbers). War is not, nor should it be the solution to the world's problems. There are only a few reasons to go to war; to defend Liberty, Freedom, and Personal Rights. I truly hope for the day when people will not feel the selfish need to control and coerce others. As you start thinking about the holidays; pray for the men and women out on the front lines. With Loving Respect - Jeff WHAT HAVE YOU / WE DONE FOR THEM TODAY?? You stay up for 16 hours. He stays up for days on end. You take a warm shower to help you wake up. He goes days or weeks without running water. You complain of a "headache", and call in sick. He gets shot at as others are hit, and keeps moving forward. You put on your anti war/don't support the troops shirt, and go meet up with your friends. He still fights for your right to wear that shirt. You make sure you're cell phone! is in your pocket. He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags. You talk trash about your "buddies" that aren't with you. He knows he may not see some of his buddies again. You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls. He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists. You complain about how hot it is. He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe hi brow. You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong. He doesn't get to eat today. Your maid makes your bed and washes your clothes. He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean. You go to the mall and get your hair redone. He doesn't have time to brush his teeth today. You're angry because your class ran 5 minutes over. He's told he will be held over an extra 2 months. You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight. He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home. You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do everyday. He holds his letter close and smells his love's perfume. You roll your eyes as a baby cries. He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they'll ever meet. You criticize your government, and say that war never solves anything. He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he is fighting. You hear the jokes about the war, and make fun of men like him. He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded. You see only what the media wants you to see. He sees the broken bodies lying around him. You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don't. He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger. You stay at home and watch TV. He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep, and eat. You crawl into your soft bed, with down pillows, and get comfortable. He tries to sleep but gets woken by mortars and helicopters all night long.