Dear citizens of Cassville and Barry County:
It is so easy for us to get caught up in all the negativity and criticism surrounding the war in Iraq right now. When we turn on CNN, FOX or any news channel, all we hear are the negative stories coming out of Iraq. Yes, unfortunately, we lose fellow soldiers to IEDs or accidents. However, being a soldier currently stationed in Iraq, I would like to express some thoughts the news sometimes omits to tell folks back home. But first, I would like to let you know a bit about myself.
My name is Specialist Aaron Weatherford. I was raised in the Cassville area and graduated from Cassville High School in May 2002. I worked at Hardee's for several years and that is where I met most of the folks from the area. I attended and graduated from Crowder College in 2005. I enlisted in the Missouri National Guard in 2005 and have since been to Guatemala on a humanitarian mission and am now deployed with the 1175th MP Company to central Iraq.
Since our arrival here, approximately one month ago, our interaction with the populace has been a pretty positive one. We work with many local citizens and some police officers. The area we are in is trying to clean up their areas and restore their lives. When we do a foot patrol through the neighborhood, the citizens and children are very nice and often we get either a thumbs up or "USA" from the locals.
Thus far, the good Lord has kept us from harm and I am confident He will continue to watch over us. Psalm 91 is commonly referred to as the "Soldier's Psalm" and for good reason. I am fairly confident most soldiers have heard of, if not read this Psalm. It is one in which I read very frequently and pray that the Lord will continue to keep us safe and also to safeguard our family we have back home.
Too many times folks get wrapped up in their opposition to the war or the government's ideas. However, I think instead of using the time this way, I think it would be better spent asking for protection and safe journey for all of our U.S. soldiers. Sometimes between the branches of the armed forces there may be differences, however, no matter what uniform we wear, we are all United States soldiers, serving and protecting the greatest country in the world.
My mother, Jennifer, is a very brave and strong woman. As I am gone, she remains steadfast in her daily life, working at True Value and when I talk to her, I can hear the happiness in her voice. We talk about different things, but the fact we are several thousand miles apart, never enters into the conversation, but instead we discuss the family and things going on here and there. Although not being able to see each other right now, the phone calls, e-mails and letters/packages suffice. I believe no matter how old a guy gets, it is sometimes good to hear from his mom.
In closing, I would like to thank my family for being supportive. My mom, Jennifer, lives in Cassville, "Granny" Joyce lives in Seligman and they are two of the strongest women I know. They continually lift my spirit as time goes by. I want to thank Mom's neighbor Fred who helps her as well. Most of all I want to thank those folks back home who join my family in praying for protection and safe return for me and my comrades here in Iraq.
May God continue to bless you all and the United States of America.