Special Guest Opinion

Monday, November 17, 2003

Lessons from a soldier in Iraq

The following guest editorial was written by a former Buena Vista University student who is now serving in the military in Iraq. His thoughts were passed on to us by BVU administration, and the sentiment is one we feel our readers will appreciate sharing in. - The Editor

Dear Friends at BVU,

Last winter I chose to leave BVU and enter the United States Army as a Cavalry Scout. When I left school, I did not know what would lie ahead for me in the future.

All I knew was the Army would provide for me what I needed to survive. I write to you from the heart of Iraq and would like to share with you what I have learned in the short months that have followed since I left BVU.

First are the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. All of these values are not just for a soldier to live up to, but for everyone.

Be loyal with your friends and family, for they will help you get through anything that might be difficult in your life. Do your duties by fulfilling all promises you make - it will make everything easier in your life and show that you have integrity.

Respect everyone, and you will be respected in return. Volunteer your time and you will be rewarded when you least expect it. Be honorable in everything you do and you will be surprised at what happens. Always make dealings with integrity, and it will reward you greatly.

Second, the rights we enjoy as citizens of the United States should always be fought for. People here have lived under a terrorist regime for the past 24+ years. They have not enjoyed the freedom of press, the right to be free from invasion in their home without a warrant and most importantly the freedom of speech. These are rights I frequently saw taken for granted at BVU. You do have the right to speak freely, but remember American soldiers have voluntarily joined together to bleed and die to protect that right.

Third and finally, I would like to say that whatever lessons you may learn in college, the most important one is that whatever you do, put your heart and soul into it, and your friends and family will have no choice but to support you.

I want all who read this to know that we are here fighting to keep democracy and the American way of life alive. As we protect the Iraqi people, I keep the times and memories we shared at BV dear to my heart.


Specialist Thomas P. Koelder

1st Platoon, B Troop 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, United States Army