Capt. Kevin M. Erker, USMC
Stationed in Iraq
FA18 fighter pilot
Currently project manager in charge of pulling the Iraq air force together, which includes retraining their pilots
Kevin sent the following letter to his parents Ann and Dan Erker of Sheree Drive, Grand Island.

Here in Iraq there are millions of people who are praying every day for a better life. The world is not America, the world is not "our" peace. The world is all of humanity, and all of humanity deserves peace.

When I was a small child, I always wondered what it would be like to be alive during a war, and here I am. It's terribly disturbing. American is a wonderful place, an idealistic place, a place far removed from the rest of the turbulent world that we, humanity, live in.

When you sit by the fire this evening, without a flak jacket on, without a helmet on and without the sounds of mortars off in the distance, feel the peace. Feel the peace in your soul and you will understand why we are here fighting.

Sure, politicians may have hidden agendas, and sure, in some ways the war may be about money, greed, power and politics, but that's only at the very highest level. Down here on the ground, face to face with the Iraqis, it's not about any of those things.

When you, as an American, walk into the Ministry of Defense, the Iraqis look at you as if you are their salvation, their hope and their future. I've had them embrace me and thank me for helping them. They know that we are shedding blood for them. They dream about feeling the warmth that overwhelms your body when you sit by the fire tonight.

I'm not sad being away from you but happy that I have an opportunity to better someone's life. My heart breaks when I realize that when I leave, they will continue their struggle. They keep asking me who will replace me, and I don't know. I've never felt more needed. The other day the squadron commander begged me to stay. Mohammad practically embraces me every time he sees me.

Words can't explain the despair that they feel. The incredible faith that they must have is inexplicable. Can you imagine if your children were sick because you had no heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer? Can you imagine looking into the eyes of your children when they run to you terrified by the explosions in the background? I can't.

I pray for peace on Earth and mean it. We live in a turbulent time, a time where evil seems to be lurking around every corner, but remember, while evil is lurking around every corner and in all the shadows, "good" is continuing to work for peace, while walking in the open and courageously living free.