Where do I begin?
I guess New Year's Day would be an obvious choice. I was lucky enough a year ago to bring in the New Year with my immediate and extended family, as well as some very close friends. We all knew I was weeks away from being sent to Iraq, but the evening reflected no worries or fears. It was pure Wood family fun.
2007 will be a year that I cannot possibly forget. I obviously spent the majority of it in Iraq. Was that a horrible thing? Depends on how I look at it. War is an awful endeavor that I wish had never entered mankind's mind. However, you have to be pretty naive to think that evil can be confronted without it. I am fortunate and proud I have the mental and physical capacity to fight for my country and things that I believe in. I am blessed that I have had the chance to write history, and I know that my battalion helped write a positive chapter for the Iraqis that lived in our area of operations.
The seven months that I spend in Iraq was a learning experience that can't possibly be replicated in universities or textbooks. It was a lesson in psychology, in culture, a first hand look at the best and worst qualities that can be found in society. Iraq aged me by decades while simultaneously revealing my youth and insignificance to the grand 'scheme'.
The second half of 2007 did nothing but justify everything that I fought for in the first half. Coming home and seeing my family waiting for me at Victory Field was a tidal wave of relief, knowing that, at least for a while, my mom could sleep well at night. The outpouring of support that I received from people all over the country, people I had never met and most likely will never meet, overwhelmed me and reminded me why I serve.
And what of all those Badger football games I got to attend? I'd be lying if I said the anticipation of this season didn't motivate me on the occasional patrol through the Zaidon. Sure they nearly gave me a heart attack on numerous occasions, but being able to watch them in person FIVE times was more than I had hoped for. Being on the sidelines for the Michigan game, in uniform with two other men I had served with was a major highlight. Then there is Brett Favre and the Packers welcoming me home with an amazing year, I did NOT see that one coming.
I'd be crazy not to mention the Rockham Palace Beer Pong Championships. So maybe I made an early exit in the brackets, give me a break, I was two weeks removed from Iraq. And then there was the 7th Annual Thanksgiving Showdown. So maybe I lost in that too, but, true to the class of '97 motto, "win or lose, we still booze".
All in all, 2007 was a crazy year. It took me around the world, around the country, and through the full spectrum of experience and emotion. So here's a toast to what lies behind us and what lay before us.