Most of the year, life is pretty mundane. We do pretty much the same things every day, see the same people, eat at the same places, laugh at the same jokes and grow angry at the same politicians.

We say we would jump at a chance to do something different, to make a difference, but we rarely do it.

Marine Pfc. Moises A. Langhorst is one person who didn’t miss his chance. The New York Times recently reprinted correspondence from Pfc. Langhorst to his parents, along with similar letters written by other U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

His thoughts are worth reading now that we’re full-on into a holiday season that, for many, will become a little too tiring and artificial and disappointing by the time a new year begins and “mundane” once again stakes claim to our lives and we wonder what to make of it all.


As far as my psychological health, we look out for each other pretty well on that. I’ve been praying a lot, and I hope you’re praying for the Dirty 3rd Platoon, because there is no doubt that we are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.


After standing in the guard tower for seven-and-a-half hours this morning, we went on our first platoon-size patrol from about 1200 to 1700. It was exhausting, but it went very well. I had to carry the patrol pack with emergency chow, a poncho and night vision goggles. That’s what really wore me out.

We toured the mosques and visited the troublesome abandoned train station. The people were friendly, and flocks of children followed us everywhere.

When I called, you asked me if Iraq is what I expected, and it really is. It looks just like it does on the news. It hardly feels like a war, though. Compared to the wars of the past, this is nothing. We’re not standing on line in the open – facing German machine guns like the Marines at Belleau Wood or trying to wade ashore in chest-deep water at Tarawa. We’re not facing hordes of screaming men at the frozen Chosun Reservoir in Korea or the clever ambushes of Vietcong. We deal with potshots and I.E.D.’s. With modern medicine, my chances of dying are slim to none, and my chances of going home unscathed are better than half. Fewer than 10 men in my company have fired their weapons in the 10 days we’ve been here.


While not always pleasant, I know this experience is good for me. It makes me appreciate every little blessing God gives me, especially the family, friends and home I left behind in Moose Lake.

Private Langhorst, 19, of Moose Lake, Minn., was killed in Al Anbar Province April 6 by small-arms fire.