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Christmas for Iraqis


U.S. Air Force Chaplain Steven West with a wounded Iraqi soldier in an Iraq hospital, pictured in an undated photo. Pilot photo/courtesy Chaplain Steven E. West

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Boston Archdiocese’s vicar general, Father Richard Erikson is on a mission of another kind: sending Christmas cards to wounded Iraqi soldiers.

A chaplain himself, everyone knows about his esteem for the Air Force and his admiration for the women and men in all the military services. He recently shared with the staff of the central services of the archdiocese a message from a fellow chaplain with the request.

In his message, Air Force Chaplain Steven West recounted a meeting with a wounded Iraqi soldier working with American troops. “I was visiting the ward at our hospital. I was conversing with a soldier when I glanced across the room at an injured Iraqi soldier.”

The chaplain described how he spotted the young soldier smiling and holding a pink object in his hand. On closer inspection Chaplain West identified the mysterious object: a pink piece of construction paper, folded in half with something written on it in crayon.

“As he held it out to me, I noticed a handmade card. It was crafted by a school-aged child from somewhere in the United States,” the chaplain wrote.

“The amazing thing about this particular card was its inscription. It was addressed, ‘Dear Iraqi Soldier.’ The drawing of a little girl and her younger brother adorned the outside of the letter. Inside the young author penned a sweet, innocent message of hope which ended with a prayer,” he continued.

No one knew the source of the precious letter of hope and encouragement. “We have not been able to find another card addressed to anyone other than American troops in the boxes of cards we receive,” the chaplain wrote.

In a Christmas plea, he asks “My prayer is [that] families, Sunday school classes, and schools will send cards specifically addressed for the Iraqi people we treat.”

“One card made the difference in the life of one Iraqi soldier. Imagine the impact on precious lives if we can provide cards for all of our Iraqi patients,” chaplain West wrote at the end of his request.

Send cards to:

STEVEN E. WEST, Ch, Lt Col, USAF

Wing Chaplain

332 AEW/HC

APO AE 09315-9997

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