Commentary: Someone worth fighting for

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Mathis
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Command Post
It's really easy to get into the grind of a deployment in Iraq and wonder just what the heck you are doing here. Days turn into weeks, and the constant machinations of this huge base can wear you down. Sometimes, you might even catch yourself wondering if there's anything left to fight for in this place.

The other day, I met someone worth fighting for.

I was in the Air Force Theater Hospital pharmacy waiting on my prescriptions to be filled, and I found myself sitting with a group of Iraqi civilians. There was a father sitting there, holding a beautiful 2-year old girl named Anan who had severe burns to both arms from the elbow down.

She had dark auburn hair with reddish tips and the biggest brown eyes I've ever seen. She was whimpering from the pain, but managed to peek out at me as she was leaning on her father's chest. She met my eyes and quickly turned away -- just like most shy 2-year-olds do.

Her father and I spoke for a few minutes. Through broken English, he told me he has four children, and was there for medical treatment. As he tried to comfort his daughter, I smiled and kept reading my magazine. But then Anan kept peeking at me and turning away. So when she looked at me I gave her a funny face; then, she would turn away again. This went on for about five minutes before I finally got a smile out of her. This was a moment that I still can't explain but something was communicated between this little girl and me.

As I watched this family, it hit me that these folks aren't that much different from us. They love their kids and worry about them when they are hurt or sick. The father was kissing her curly head and whispering to her while they waited.

As they called my name for my prescriptions, I took one last look at that little girl and felt real sadness for this family. This poor thing was completely bandaged up from her elbows to her finger tips. Being a daddy, I wanted to do something for her.

I walked the hospital for a few minutes until I found a candy dish with some mints in it. I grabbed three -- one for the little girl, and two for a couple of other kids who were there waiting. I gave each kid a piece of candy, and the smiles I got made my whole trip so far. The 2-year-old girl couldn't hold the candy, but her father took it and held it for her.

I wanted to do more, but the hospital gives each family donated gifts, so I know they will be taken care of. I have the utmost respect for the doctors and medics; I can't stand seeing a child suffer.

If the things here we do on a day-to-day basis help families like that, then this deployment is worth all the pain of separation and stress that it puts on me. That's worth fighting for, and I wish the news channels back home would report this kind of thing to really show the world why we fight for others' freedoms.

The name Anan means "clouds" in Arabic, and from now on when I look into the sky and see a cloud, this little girl will cross my mind.