The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

A GLIMPSE |

January 26, 2007

A GLIMPSE
Name: SGT Brandon White
Posting date: 1/26/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Diamond, OH
Milblog url: http://www.gwot.us
Email: soldierboy101st@yahoo.com

Who are these ragtag misfits? They're different things to different people. They are the eyes and ears of any given village in the land, and are no doubt exploited by my enemy for intel-gathering purposes. To us troops though, these kids provide a glimpse of hope among ruin, and a brief respite from the turmoils of battle. On their little faces shine bright smiles that can only come with youth. No different from American children, they are utterly curious and fascinated by everything, words escaping their lips a mile a minute, regardless of the fact that we cannot understand them.Framed_white_intelkids

When I pulled my camera out to take some photos of the surrounding mountains, these guys immediately formed into a group for a portrait. It was the same in Iraq as well. Let it be said; folks in the Middle East love having their picture taken.

Afterwards, I went and sat back down behind the wheel of my Humvee. Within minutes, all four door windows had faces pressed to the glass, peering in, no doubt fascinated by all the gear and gizmos. One of them spotted the bag of Tootsie Rolls stashed next to a seat. Knocking on glass commenced, as well as finger-pointing to the bag along with “Mista! Mista!”. In the interest of silence, I grabbed the bag, gave it to the gunner, and he dispensed the contents. I was then left in peace to scan the horizon for enemy activity.

Comments

In a baboon troop, plains Indians on the march of any group trying to survive, the outer limits of the group is made up of young energetic curious males - always questioning, always acting out always ready to be the first to sound the alarm when things aren't right. The older, tougher, stronger alpha males are concentrated at the head and tail of the group protecting the females and young. It must be a genetic pattern. Thanks for being on the outer circle.

Kids will be kids will be kids! At first glance, they look so innocent, just wanting candy... Its a shame where they sleep tonight will be much different where my children will sleep... Thanks for being there, I appreciate your trying to help improve their futures...

Thanks for spreading the wealth - or at least the candy. They look like they can use it - along with gloves. And is one barefoot?

Thats what I noticed too, when I glanced at the attached image. These kids don't have warm clothes and shoes.

I beg to differ: Iraq or Afghani children aren't like American kids. They are survivors imbued with genetic toughness over many hundreds of generations, bred to endure despite deprivation.

You think about this: they are peoples that have been at war since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Some of you might look up the date. It was a very long ago, before the rise of colonial powers in Europe.

Yes, you would be an object of curiosity in their world. Have an interpretor translate a few of their stories of an average day.

It would be..quite revealing to your readers. Maybe put a little perspective spin on the differences between their lives and that of your average American kid. Thanks for posting, sir.

On second thought, I remember many times I would say to my kids, put some clothes on it's cold, or put your shoe's on its cold out and they would always say "its not that cold out!" and run off to play ... Like I said "kids will be kids will be kids" Maybe there are some similar universal triats in kids no matter where they grow up! These kids usually mime for candy, not sweaters...

What a group! I want to hug them all!

Yes, kids will be kids, and the ones in this picture have (of course) been raised much differently than the way our kids here in the US have been reared. They have already experienced much in life that none of us will ever know, yet they retain a genuine cheer; a love of life and happiness. Sadly, due to circumstances in their world and in their culture, they may not be permitted to carry that optimism forward into their adulthood, at least not outwardly. But, I bet some of them will, at least a little, inwardly.

Look at the little guy in the blue hat - front row, standing next to the tall kid. He has a certain something to him; that grin of real happiness, at least at that moment. If the Gods be good, perhaps he'll be allowed to develop that personality and not be forced to conform to a grimmer adult mold as he grows older.

Bless them all, and bless our troops. At least you guys in Afghanistan are on the right track, and not up to your elbows in that mess in Iraq. May you all return home to the arms of your loved ones, safely and in good health.

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