June 26, 2007
I have received a large number of letters here. Most are from Mrs. Badger 6, some from my parents and hers, some from friends from before my blog, and some from new friends I have made through the blog. Outside of the ones from my wife and the dogs (she sends the cards for them) the ones from the children are the most meaningful. They are struggling to understand and be involved in the wider world. My three nephews and one niece have sent me memorable cards with touching notes; a friend from Virginia has children who have written me, as well as a dear friend from Chicago whose children are semi-regular correspondents. All those will be treasured memories from Iraq.
Today I received a letter from the child of a regular Badgers Forward reader that inadvertently touched me deeply:
Dear Badger 6,
Hello my name is PC. I am a fourth grader in New Jersey.
I hope you are healthy and doing okay. I am letting you know that we kids care about you guys as much as adults. My class and I would like to know what an average day is in Iraq.
Do you have a lot of free time?
My dad said you like Bruce Springsteen, we like him too and I have an autograph of him. He and his wife are very nice & kind. If I see him again I will try and get an autograph for you.
PS - My dad says Badgers Forward to you.
For me there are a number of layers in this letter. How wonderful to hear from a fourth grader who is not loaded with the cynicism of age, because you see I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan; his music has been the soundtrack of my life.
But most of my Soldiers would never know that about me; which would greatly surprise my wife, family, and virtually everyone I knew before I became associated with this unit. You see this war is deeply personal to me -- my involvement, my separation from home, my Soldiers' sacrifice -- and as big a fan as I have been of Mr. Springsteen's, his calls of "Bring Em Home" have never felt very much like support.
I am self-aware enough to realize how silly this probably all sounds. Does Bruce Springsteen really remember the time he tossed me a harmonica in the front row of his show in Nashville, Tennessee on April 12, 2000? Or when he tossed me the guitar to play the last chords of "Working on the Highway" the same night? Of course not.
One of the things though that brought me to him was his constant "searching for connection." And that is what PC is doing. And even though I don't "know" Mr. Springsteen, his music and shows have brought me together with a lot of terrific people, many of whom I now feel quite estranged from because of how we see this war. I don't like that.
Thanks, PC, for being out there searching for some connection.
I have a letter to write.