My nephew Jake is stationed in Afghanistan--I thought you would appreciate what he wrote recently:
Well I'm coming up on 5 months now here in sunny Afghanistan and thought I would share some of my opinions and views with everyone who has the pleasure of not being here.
While Afghanistan is and always has been a country of war, it continues to accept western influence. Most of the Afghan people welcome the U.S. with open arms. Never have I drove to a city in Washington where I knew no one and greeted with a smile from almost everyone. Maybe it's the uniform, or the fact that we are doing something good here. I like to believe the second of the two.
In my time here (about 5 months) I have seen a lot of tragedy but a lot of good as well.... But one fact still remains the same this is one of the poorest if not the poorest country on the planet.
My biggest point of this message is do not for a second take for granted what you have right now. You have to live your life to the fullest, this may sound like one of those posters hanging up in shop class you know the ones that say "honor" etc with a picture of some eagle flying. But what I'm saying is true. Take it as you will but there are kids afraid to go to school around here. Most of the schools have barb wire surrounding them. The people that aren't against us are just as much of a target as we are. Bombings are constant across the country in civilian towns.
People live off of homemade bread, rice, and goats. There are sheep herders who walk 20+ miles to make a living. Living in tents in the middle of the desert. Most homes are made of mud, sticks, and some feces. Pissing and shitting in the streets, most towns get their water from a well, and some have to walk to other towns just to get the water.
So what I'm saying again, live your life to the fullest please don't take anything for granted. I know I wont when I get home. Some of you out there aren't proud to be an American but after a visit to this place or places like this, you would change your mind. Love your wife, husband, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters don't spend time on arguments life is too short. I have become more mature over here when it comes to certain things, but don't worry hopefully I'll be the same Jake when I get home. Just a little better at the things I knew I needed to improve on.
Keep him in your prayers--and the people of Afghanistan, too, while you're at it!