Editor's note: This letter was written by Master Gunnery Sgt. Manuel A. Díaz, a Marine in Iraq, to Manuel Díaz, his father, who lives in
Turlock. The elder Díaz is a former visiting editor with The Bee. He said his son recently told him: "I am here to plant life, not to take it."
I understand the conditions that people find themselves here. Even out here we get time to talk to people so they learn that we are human. I have gotten to know an Iraqi who is an interpreter. She helps assure her people that I am here to give water, power and shelter that they can depend on.
Their plumbing is from 1921.
Usually the question is: Why would I want to help them?
They distrust anyone in a uniform and fear any U.S. Marine. But they learn that I have a family and that there are problems in America, too. We are equal and can talk, laugh and cry together.
There are too many good people here who don't deserve to relive the past 50 years, but there is no one who can change it. It just helps to understand we are all in this hole together. My Marines used to talk like any Iraqi was a devil, but now they want to play with the children and help rebuild their lives.
I built a new base to move my Marines out of a schoolhouse, so now I can rebuild the school. There are little girls in this village that are excited when we come into to visit and work because they hear that the school will be for them. They have not gone to a school before. If there turns out to be just one child who learns how to be as good a teacher as Grandma, then she has done her job and made a difference in the world.
I know that I may not get to see Grandma again. I will write her this week.
It all works out as long as there are those who are willing to take a stand. I learned that from your side of my family. I have no worries out here. I just wish everyone could get a chance to see it for what it really is and how much the Iraqi people deserve a little of what we have.
I wait to hear from you.