For some, it feels like the Iraq War has been going on forever, and for some, it feels like it just began. For me, it began the day my brother, Jason, left for Iraq. I had never been personally affected by the war yet. It was thousands of miles away and was something that was all over the news, but no one paid much attention to. Jason deployed to Kuwait in early December and flew into Baghdad on Christmas Day. Our correspondence with him has been limited, but it is always amazing to hear his voice. Jason is one of those guys that is amazing to be around and I am very proud to say that he is my brother. When I received this email from him, I knew for a fact that it was definitely my brother speaking. He has always cared about other people and wants to put their needs first. He inspired me to help him with the project detailed below. I call it Operation: Iraqi Compassion. I attend Central Michigan University and have been persuading organizations to get involved on campus. The ideas presented in the email are spreading and I know they are making an impact on people's lives.
The first email I received from him is what you are about to read. Below is the email (in blue) my brother sent to me over Christmas Break. I hope that it is as moving for you as it has been for me.
From: Tebedo, Jason C 1LT MIL USA
Sent: Sat 1/05/08 3:46 PM
Glad to hear from you! Things are extremely busy here; we have constant patrols and meetings to attend. The only time I see my room is around midnight and then at 0500 when I wake up.
Yesterday I got the chance to go out on patrol and meet with the local sheiks (leaders). It was truly an eye opening experience to see how good we have it in the US. People in Iraq live in mud huts and barely have any food. Donkeys and old broken cars are the only means of transportation. The children beg the soldiers for water and food. Yesterday I bought a soccer ball for one of the kids; he was really happy until the other kids beat him up and took it.
The weather is cold, it only gets to 50 and at night it drops into the 20s. The women are dressed head to toe in black, they wont even make eye contact with you. When we went out on patrol I waived to group of women and kids, the husband saw that his wife waved so he kicked her and hit her with a stick.
These people have an extreme way of life that is uncommon to the US. I also saw a lot of kids with mental disabilities. I saw one kid sitting outside of the sheiks house completely motionless. You could tell that he possessed no motor or cognitive functions at all. The sad part was the child, about 8, sat there with his mouth open and no lie he must have had 10 flies eating the inside of his mouth. His parents did nothing after I pointed out the flies.
Attacks have been at an extreme low. This is mostly due to the "awakening." The awakening is a term used to describe the new trend in which Iraqis, bad and good, have come to band with the Coalition Forces and take back their neighborhoods. They're essentially a neighborhood watch program with AK-47s. We don’t question how bad they were, all we care about is that they are good now.
I know a lot of you have been wondering what type of things you can send in care packages. All I can say is don't worry about me I'll be fine. What I would like to ask of you is to help us win this war by kindness and caring. I believe that we can win this war from the bottom up by helping the people of Iraq. Please reach out to all your family, friends, and churches and help us support this war and get our troops out. I have included a list of items that we could use to hand out to the children and women of Iraq.
Children’s Clothes (all ages) (please NO skirts or shorts for girls, t-shirts are ok
Soccer Balls (kids love these)
Children's School Supplies
You can send all packages to:
1LT Jason Tebedo
HQ/A Trp/ 2-14 CAV # 6260
APO AE 09378
Thank you all for all your support.
1LT Jason Tebedo
I know that there are a lot of opinions about the war in Iraq, but I think that what it comes down to is supporting our troops and being compassionate to the people of Iraq. It is about loving other human beings.
The Tebedo Family