Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Skittles for Soldiers

by Kerry Blair

As I write this, night has fallen in Iraq. It is 104 degrees, practically cool after the day’s high of 114. Next week the temperature is expected to reach 118. That’s hotter than I expect most of you can imagine. Even those of us who know what it feels like know that when it’s that hot in Phoenix, you don’t sit around the pool in a swimsuit, sipping lemonade. Temperatures in that range make you feel like a baked ham. Imagine, then, going anywhere dressed like this.

That is everyday business dress for many—too many—of the men and women fighting our country’s war on terror.

But this isn’t another treastise on why we should be grateful, I promise! Instead, it’s an invitation to do something to show that gratitude. As you’ve all heard by now, Julie Bellon’s new book, All’s Fair, is set partially in Iraq. To get a feel for the area and conditions, she asked questions of my youngest son – a Marine MP who “celebrated” his 22nd birthday in the volatile Al Anbar Province –his second tour of duty.

About a year later, Julie is doing more than raking in royalties and basking in the stellar reviews of a truly gripping and already best-selling novel. She came to care deeply about the men and women whose life-experiences formed the basis of her book, so she—with the support of Covenant Communications and Seagull Book—has organized a Skittles for Soldiers campaign to gather necessities, and hopefully a few luxuries, for our troops in Iraq. She has decorated collection boxes and is in the process of delivering them to Seagull bookstores up and down the Wasatch front. Herself. She cares that much. You don’t have to do as much as Julie—nobody would—but you can help her out. Read all about it on her website, HERE.

I hope Julie plans to tell you all about it tomorrow. I’m beating her to the punch today, with permission, because I have something she doesn’t—pictures. Here is a glimpse at the real people in the real place--a representative sample of the men and women who will benefit from her heroic efforts. Be grateful. My son very, very rarely gives me permission to post anything about his experiences in Iraq, let alone his pictures, but he granted it this morning for Julie, who he came to respect and like through their correspondence, and for the sake of a project he appreciates. He well knows how much the boxes from home mean when one is bone-weary, pushed to the limits, and far from home.

If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few thousand good reasons for you to get out there and support the soldiers, Marines, air men, and sailors who spend every day of their young lives defending you and yours!

The pictures, in descending order from the top:

1) Matt's squad returning from a nighttime response to detect/disable a roadside bomb.
2) A real-life scene from All's Fair.
3) Matt's group began every mission with prayer.
4) Bases like this one are home, sweet home to about 170,000 American servicemen and women.
5) In Iraq, shade is often where you make it.
6) Aren't you glad you don't work (or live) here?


At 7/09/2008 3:15 PM, Blogger Candace E. Salima said...

Thanks for sharing about your son and Julie's project, Kerry. It was a good reminder of those out there protecting what we take for granted every day, freedom.

At 7/09/2008 3:30 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I just got a note from someone who enlarged one of the pictures and found something objectionable written on a wall or tank or something in the background. I've apologized to her and removed the picture. Since I'm supposed to pick up Cubs for a field trip in three mintues, I simply don't have time to go over every remaining photo with a magnifying glass.

CAUTION: Enlarge these pictures at your own risk. This is the Marine Corps, people, not Sunday School -- and the active members of the Church (like Matt) are about the teeniest minority you can imagine.

I'll check them carefully when I get home, in the meantime, I don't want to pull the post, so consider yourselves warned!

At 7/09/2008 3:33 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

My first thought was: Hey, is it Friday already? Sweet!

Is your son in the first picture, or is he taking the shot?

Alright, you've convinced me, I'll bring some stuff to Julie's signing on Friday. =) Wish you were there.

The last picture on the page sort of looks like one place I worked - out at Dugway. Okay, not quite that remote, maybe. ;)

At 7/09/2008 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry, just seeing those pictures makes me feel so incredibly grateful. I can hardly imagine what those men and women go through every day in a country so far away. I hope that my little project to give them a touch of home is a success and people catch the vision of it. Thank you for supporting me. I can't even begin to express how much Matthew, the Nemesis squad and you have meant to me throughout this entire process. You are all amazing.

Julie Bellon

At 7/10/2008 12:01 AM, Blogger Jennie said...

Excellent blog, Kerry. And Julie I wish you all the luck in the world with your Skittles Project. Reading Julie's book was both wonderful and difficult for me because as a "soldier's mom" it brought difficult memories to the surface and I hurt for those men and women and all they're going through. They're truly America's finest and deserve all the support and encouragement we can give them--and Skittles too.

At 7/10/2008 2:22 AM, Blogger Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Kerry- thank you so much for your blog and the wonderful pictures. And a million thanks to Matt for being willing to share.

Julie, this is such a cool project! I wish you all the luck in the world with it.

Nancy Campbell Allen

At 7/10/2008 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enlarging pictures? What's up with that. Keep them small. Enjoy the sentiment. Stop looking for the blemish.

At 7/10/2008 6:53 PM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

What Nancy said. =)The only thing I could possibly add: a picture does indeed paint a thousand words. Julie and Kerry, thank you both for all you're doing.

At 7/10/2008 7:21 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

Two of my sons are set to be deployed over there in just a couple of months. From what I understand, their unit has quite a few LDS soldiers in it and they get to do a lot of service and preaching of the gospel through that service. And you are right, this is the Marines and not Sunday School. Semper Fi and thank you Matt

At 7/10/2008 8:30 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Jon: I wish I could be there, too!

Sandra: Two at the same time? My gosh. More than I could handle, for sure! You and yours will be in my thoughts and prayers. I just wanted to say that while there were only a couple of LDS in Matt's entire unit, he was with good men and had incredible spiritual experiences. You saw the picture of the prayer circle? It gives me goose bumps. Matt gave away many copies of the Book of Mormon in Iraq and observed Easter on the banks of the Euphrates. While not in the way would we most like, the holy priesthood HAS once again returned to the land of Abraham's nativity. How cool is THAT?!

At 7/12/2008 12:56 PM, Anonymous Mr and Mrs. Thoughtskoto said...

kerry, we are proud to have American friends, like you whose son is serving.

There are two great and noble men I consider heroes in this world who are willing to die so the world may live, Jesus Christ who give us liberty of our soul, and the American Soldiers and other soldiers who serve for peace, who gave and is giving us freedom.

Tell your son Kerry, we are just a border away here in Saudi.


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