In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Fourth of July

There in a farm field, under the beautiful night sky, I experienced one of those moments you hope will flash before your eyes as the final breath is released from the lungs. It was in the small town of Mattoon, Ill., and the day was July 4, our precious Independence Day. I was with the boys from NCO Alley, their wives and a beautiful girl whom I now call my girl.

We sat in lawn chairs on a roadside near an American red farm house. For miles, a sea of lush green is all we could see. Then night fell and the bright stars glowed on us.

The three men were all scared of what came when the night sky arrived. Since we’ve been home, fireworks have not been our friend. The bursts remind of us of mortars falling nearby and bottle rockets sound exactly like a 107 mm rocket flying overhead. But we had to be there, to see our first Fourth of July celebration since our return home. We guzzled enough beer to numb our initial jump or twitch, and most importantly, we all had our significant other there to rub our heads, to calm us. Then, the fireworks began. They lasted for 45 minutes, and with each blast rather than feeling scared, I felt joy. With each colorful display, I thought of how much I love my country. I thought of the girl sitting beside me, and my feelings for her. But most of all, I thought of my friends who died for the green crops, the little kids and the farm houses that make up America.

And for the first time, a tear or a sad feeling didn’t overcome me when I thought of T & Mitts. Rather a smile. It’s as if they were looking down from heaven, watching the country they died for and patting me on the back.

When the fireworks were over, I saw a cute little girl with her family. She held Old Glory close to her face. The image stopped me for a moment. And as I stood there, I hoped the feeling would never end. I took a mental picture of the fireworks, the flag and little girl, and the joy shared between friends. This Fourth of July had new meaning.


At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post, but pretty sappy. looks like you're becoming a little sissy. that's ok. it takes a man to be girly, yet still manly.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Casanova, it seems to me that you've turned a very important corner in your readjustment to civilian life, it does my heart good to see that. Sounds like it was a perfect night, and not one that you'll ever forget.

Do you remember what I told you last week? I said, "you're falling." You and your big bad self denied it....hmmmmm....deny it all you want, but I do believe you're off the market......:)

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Ramy said...

Yay! I am soooo happy for you Smink!

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Mom said...

I agree with kbug. A very important corner in your readjustment to civilian life. It is beautiful. I am pleased to see "your girl" sappy....probably but it is also a big step.
Congrats and enjoy.

At 3:35 AM, Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

So heartwarming and sweet...;-).

At 8:26 AM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

WELL WELL,, I too agree with the turning a corner. AND a "my girl" too boot! Way to go Smink! OK so fess up , did ya loose the Brute?
I am sssooo happy for ya, keep going forward!

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was beautiful and very moving. I hope you don't mind that I linked you to my LiveJournal. It's a friend's Only journal, so it isn't like I'm real exposure helpful or anything. I do, however, have quite a few friends who are either Soldiers or veterans. I like to give them some positive things to read, especially the deployed ones.

I have linked to you a few times in the past. You are an excellent writer. Thank-you for your service in the military and on paper.

- Supe/ a.k.a. The SGMsHousehold6

At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had to have given up the brut...

Wish you would have had your camera with you to capture that moment for the rest of us! ;) But thanks for sharing.

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought of you guys as I was watching the fireworks here. My woman felt bad because she felt her injuries were screwing up my plans to be with my NCO Alley buddies. I told her you guys would understand that I needed to be with her and help take care of her.

I also thought about our Fourth Of July last year in Mosul, with the two foot deep pool in front of IMN.

The fireworks were ok, but where we were sitting(on the edge of a potato field), the booms from the fireworks would make this strange little winding echo off to my left. You know--kinda like an incoming RPG or 107 does as it barrels in.

And anonymous, if finding the right woman to be with, to laugh with, to love with makes a man a sissy, well I guess I'm a sissy, too. But I'm a happy one. Because I've found my woman.

That must make you one lonely, miserable, ornery cuss, I reckon.

Out here.

a/k/a Sea Biscuit 6

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wanted to let ya know I just watched "Desert Sun" and enjoyed it,hope the proceeds are helping the families of the fallen as well.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Chris said...

You deserve that new meaning Sminky. Beautiful story. Excellent writing. Now get busy with your book :)

At 4:32 PM, Blogger remoteman said...

Smink, so glad to hear the happiness come through. All you guys deserve it so much. I had one of the best 4th's ever. My younger daughter was running all around just having the time of her less than 2 year old life. Watching her was so fun. But I kept thinking of all our fighting men and women who made the celebration possible. I just couldn't get them out of my head.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Household6 said...

I don't know you well enough to tease you about "your girl" but good for you and apparently 'sappy' looks good on you. I am glad that you did not have the angst that you thought you might over the fireworks.

AKA Miss Stella

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Rhodent said...

I am SO glad that you had a wonderful July 4th... may all of your 4ths be as great!

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At 4:45 AM, Blogger Bill Adams said...

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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams

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