First Lieutenant Jed Fisher is currently serving as a United States Army platoon leader in the First Armored Division in Iraq. He has spent his whole life in the Palmerton/Carbon County area, and "misses it dearly."
Jed has been emailing home to his family about once a week and shares what his life is like in the Maysan province in southeastern Iraq and we thought you might appreciate reading about the experiences of one of our brave servicepeople.)
Dear friends and family:
A grainy, dizzying splattering of mexapixelation has stolen my heart and reminded me oh so much of days gone by. A picture of course which has captured a moment of my life; a flash really a sliver of time so short you could drive past the moment makers, miss them with as little as a quick glance in your rear-view mirror. As I see them pictures, are really just a moment immortalized, a moment's motion and emotion suspended forever.
Of course, emotions here in Iraq so quickly change. For a moment, I can be seven thousand miles away and three years younger. Or 10 years younger. I think my mind has a subtle power to comfort me when I am troubled by offering the momentary escape of a memory; however fleeting this may be. So often though, I find myself lost in a picture. I experience Iraq the way I think few have and even fewer will in the future. I eat Iraqi food with Iraqis, I speak with Iraqis, I have relationships with Iraqis. I jokingly tell the locals that I was born in Kurdistan, and my name is "Abu Samak," which roughly translates to "son of fisherman." They go crazy for it. Trust me, this is all in living color just as any vivid picture.
Despite how fully immersed in this I am, much of life here is less like the Microsoft Windows desktop background pictures that come standard with every new computer bursting with color and perfect in perspective and more like a monochromatic malaise. Similar in a way – to the crappy pictures that come with new picture frames, you know the kind. My vivid memories are one of my escapes, allowing me to leap out of my body and into another realm, reality's distant cousin.
From what I recall, three minutes and twenty-nine seconds passed. Roughly the amount of time in one of my favorite songs by O.A.R. In one of those welcome, yet unusual enough to note instance, a song and picture collided in my mind – few times before has my mind so marvelously married visual and vocal memory. I feel so locked in the memory. My eyes begin to water, and I realize how chapped my lips are as I clear my throat and inhale deeply. Trying to savor the moment, I hold in the breath until my lungs begin to burn, and then cannot help but sigh so slightly as I exhale. I close my eyes again and realize those wandering days in Scranton, the University of, were some of the greatest days of my life. I was in love, surrounded by brilliance, and illuminated with vibrant friendships that tied me to my home in Kunkletown and attached me to my Alma Mater. I cannot help but feel my eyes watering more noticeably. I pull my cap lower against my forehead to mask my red eyes. Strangely, I am feeling emotions more powerfully than I have in months. 121 days to be exact the amount of time I've been deployed.
Long ago I came to terms with the departure of those days. I think I'm feeling this awkward avalanche of emotion because the amount of pride I feel in what those days meant to me. Of course, parties and the pursuit of them are an undeniable element of this but more importantly and more permanently are those things more indelibly impressed upon me my heart and my mind. I met and married a wildly beautiful woman. Lisa the Italian girl with amazing curly brown hair and glasses the girl who became the woman I knew I'd end up with years before we ended up with each other. This validates my closest help belief everything in our lives happens for a reason. Every stride we take, and every obstacle we negotiate is part of this. I applied to only one college my senior year at Palmerton Area. I had only visited the school once before I moved in one fateful Saturday in 2003. I hated the first weeks there, but for only by the Grace of God did I stick around long enough to find out what truly mattered to me.
Life in Iraq can be gray indeed but so can a dreary day in Carbon, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. We all face gray, and likewise we all face obstacles. Until you know what gray is, it is hard to truly understand how important a vibrant picture's memory can be.