The Soldiers of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Speicher, as well several of our smaller FOBs, were treated to an acoustic performance by Toby Keith this past month. That was a very exciting time for all of us and we truly appreciate the time that he took in order to come boost our morale and give us a little break from the day to day routine here in Iraq.
Toby Keith has proven himself to be a solid supporter of the Troops. He let us take every picture requested and gave every autograph requested. I was very relieved that I was able to secure his autograph on one of my daughter’s CDs that she had sent to me. Now I just have to get it back home without damaging it.
A very important event in the lives of several of our Soldiers and their families occurred just a few weeks ago. There were 39 Soldiers from the Division who obtained their United States Citizenship. They completed their process with a quiet ceremony in Balad, Iraq. Those men and women have really accomplished something great.
In this time of so many things going on in our country regarding immigration, I thought it was pretty impressive to see those Soldiers become citizens. Before they became US citizens, they were already serving in the United States Army, defending your and my Constitution. They volunteered for that service and by all means had earned the right to be US Citizens.
Next month our replacements will begin to leave their home stations of Hawaii, Fort Lewis, Fort Bragg and other areas to start their tour of duty here in Iraq. Many of us will make it home in time to finish out the summer with our families and more of us will make it home in time to experience the early part of the upcoming school year.
Some of the units in our Division arrived in Iraq a little later and will not be home until October and November. That basically means that from July thru November there will be Screaming Eagles arriving home to Fort Campbell.
It will be an incredible task to make that happen but the folks here and at Fort Campbell as well as the very important Air Force bubbas that will be flying us will all be working daily to get this done.
A few weeks ago Memorial Day was recognized in various ways across the United States. Each ceremony was intended to be recognized as a tribute to the sacrifices of our Nation’s Heroes. I had the privilege of attending the most moving Memorial Day ceremony that I have ever seen and it happened right here in Iraq.
It was a very simple ceremony. Our Commanding General paid homage to the great Heroes of our Task Force in a short but very meaningful speech in which he directed us to continue the fight and the mission in honor of the Fallen. When his speech was completed, the names of all of the Soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice were read aloud.
Some of those names were of Soldiers that I knew personally and some were of Soldiers that I never had the honor of meeting. Regardless of who they were, they will always be heroes of our Division and they will always be heroes of the United States of America. To close the ceremony, Taps was played by the Division Bugler and then we all rendered a last salute in honor of the Fallen to the memorial stand, a simple rifle standing bayonet down, with a helmet on top and boots out front and more than 100 sets of identification tags hanging from the hand grip.
After that experience I know that I will never view Memorial Day the same again. We enjoy the freedoms we have in America thanks to the sacrifices of these men and women and we should never allow the words “The Ultimate Sacrifice” to become hollow to us.