In North Texas, we worry about Sal, our soldier friend in Iraq. So far the silent periods haven’t meant any of the horrible things we imagined, and we got another message from him last week. I explained to him that there’s a firestorm here in the U.S. because a few soldiers have shared their opinions and attitudes with family, friends, and even reporters. I warned him that military people and politicians here are making a lot of noise about “national security” issues in soldiers’ comments. I also told him that I think it’s really their public relations they’re worried about as this unpopular occupation drags on. Here are some of Sal’s comments:

Dear Jim,

We don’t share the same freedom as civilians. If anything we say to an authority figure is interpreted as disrespectful, we could end up on extra duty, confined to our rooms, and have a significant amount of money taken away. So, for the most part, I end up just bitching and/or studying. Does that make me an armchair socialist?

Oh well. Here is a little bit of news from down. Tomorrow we have a sports day, which basically equates to most of our brigade standing around in 113-degree weather having to watch other people play sports. Arnold Schwarzenegger is supposed to show up for an opportunity to take pictures and sign autographs. I heard he is running for governor of California. Oh well.

We are still filling sandbags. It looks like we will be doing it another week. We work from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Then it is work as usual. They started to give us Sundays off. But we do what we usually do on Sunday? Sit in the office and read. Your tax dollars hard at work!

I hope your protest against Bush in Dallas goes well. What kind of things are going on in Texas? I miss it very much. There is a National Guard unit here from somewhere in Texas and when I see the Texas flag waving it makes me think of home. I miss it very much. I think, though, that I will be home soon enough.

I will try to e-mail you more often so you know I am not dead. And if I die, I will tell my mom to let you know so you won’t have to worry. We are expecting a big attack soon. I am praying that it won’t be too bad. I feel stupid for being here.

Sal of the Sand