Some students on campus who have friends or relatives serving in the military in Iraq have been spending a little extra on postage lately. As the war in Iraq nears the end of its first month, lines of communication between soldiers and their friends at home consist almost completely of packages and written letters.
LSA freshman Shawn Sinacola said she has not received a letter from her best friend, Pfc. William Fischer, since he left the base he was stationed at in Kuwait, though she has continued to send him letters. Fischer is currently involved in fighting in Iraq. Sinacola said she keeps her letters to Fischer upbeat. “I don’t talk about the war,” she said. “I recall a lot of memories for him.”
Sinacola was hesitant to reveal what Fischer had written to her. “I don’t know, maybe Marines aren’t supposed to say that they’re scared,” she said.
LSA sophomore Cara Anne Kircos has friends stationed in Iraq, Turkey and South Korea. She said that while she receives e-mails and letters from friends in Turkey and South Korea, communication from Iraq has stopped.
Kircos said she lets her friends choose what they want to write about. “I really let them decide – if there’s something on their mind, they’re going to tell me,” she said. “If they need to talk, they need to talk. That’s what being a friend is about.”
Gary Lillie, a Vietnam War veteran, said it doesn’t surprise him that letters have stopped coming from Iraq because soldiers do not have the energy or time to write. He said a Veterans of Foreign Wars organization sent him a package while he was serving in Vietnam and he doesn’t remember responding.
“I never did go to that VFW to thank them for that package,” he said. “About the time I got it, we were running on no energy. People back (in America) don’t understand. We had zero energy – we had left it all in Vietnam.”
Lillie, a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 310, recalled how important it was to get packages from strangers while he was fighting in Vietnam. “It’s awesome to think that there’s someone you don’t know out there thinking of you,” he said.
Kircos said she objects to anti-war protests because she feels time spent protesting could be used to write letters to troops and prepare care packages. “I don’t understand how you can protest against these soldiers. I hear their fears; I hear their thoughts – they could very well die tomorrow,” she said. “I think I get it from a different angle. The war is more real to me on a personal level than most people who don’t have that connection.”
Both Sinacola and Kircos said they don’t see their friends as faceless soldiers. Sinacola says she wrote a poem in Spanish to her friend. It reads, “In the eyes of the world you are a soldier, but in my eyes you are just a boy, my friend as always.”
Fischer does not worry about the anti-war protests, Sinacola said. He wrote, “The reason I’m over here is so people can protest at home.” Lillie has been part of an effort to send letters and packages to soldiers on the front lines. He said his letters let the soldiers know how proud he is of them. “I feel a lot safer than I’ve felt in many years seeing how good our army is,” he said.
Lillie also includes “soldier jokes” in his letters. He said he wrote one soldier, “At the rate you’re working, you’re working yourself out of a job.”
Sinacola said she worries about the safety and the freedom of her friend in Iraq. “I think it’s scary that if (the troops) over there did not agree with what’s going on, they have no power to say no. They can’t protest.” But she added that she thinks the war effort is going well.