Christmas wishes from Iraq


KAI RYSSDAL: A final thought this Christmas Eve....

If you happen to be a regular listener to this broadcast, you might think we always associate the holidays with retail spending. The real value of this season, though, has little to do with ready access to a shopping mall. In fact, the farther you are from a chance to spend money the more these holidays might mean.

Correspondent Jake Warga went to Camp Speicher, an Army base in Northern Iraq, to ask some of the soldiers there what they want for Christmas.

Sgt. First Class Siatuu Quarterman: I just want to see my kids for Christmas.

Sgt. First Class Claudia Bullard: I would like cattle for my farm, for Christmas.

Staff Sgt. Brian Allen: I want my kids, Jacob and Kirsten, to have a wonderful Christmas; and then my son, Jacob, to have a wonderful birthday that evening, because it's also his birthday.

Specialist Nico Kane: For Christmas, I just want all the soldiers to come home. I hope all the soldiers come home safe.

Staff Sgt. Robert Lacome: While you're over here it gets you thinking about what's really important. And missing home is the biggest thing on people's minds right now. So, anything from their loved ones, their wives, their families, their moms and dads, anything that's truly heart-felt, that's what feels the best over here.

First Sgt. Gregory Roman: The only thing I'd like for Christmas is to go home, I guess. Got everything else I need. Could go for a beer right now. A beer would be nice. But yeah, I'll have to not worry about that right now.

Simon Welte: At Christmas I just really would want to have some time at home with my family. But I have a family here also and we're all doing great things over here.

RYSSDAL: Believe me when I tell you it's no fun to be deployed over the holidays. So thanks, guys.

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Just last week, our son returned from his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq. His years in "The Sand Box" have given him a perspective on the world that is humbling... and a little horrifying if you think about it. In his words, "No one is shooting at me, I'm not going to die today. Everything else is just details."

Your story caught me furious with the traffic I was fighting, and brought the realization that I'd let a meaningless detail become important. I was literally shamed to tears.

Thank you for a touching reminder of how much some have given, and are still giving, so that the rest of us can live a life where the biggest worries we face are really nothing more than details.

It is my hope to one day live up to the remarkably sage standard that my son unknowingly sets for the rest of us.

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