Meet Major Laura

Major Laura in Iraq

In the United States, where I live, this next Monday is Memorial Day, when we pause to remember those who have given their lives in service to their country. I know that over a fifth of Knitting Daily members are not in the U.S. and thus do not share the American calendar; however, each and every one of us, worldwide, has a life touched by war in some way–whether we know it or not.

Allow me to introduce you to Laura, a major in the U.S. Army, stationed in Iraq. Laura and I have something in common: We are knitters. But as I sit in my safe, comfortable cubicle here in Colorado, Laura is stationed in Iraq, where the words "safe and comfortable" do not apply. I know nothing of war; Laura sees the effects of war daily in her work as a medical officer in charge of caring for the troops. For me, getting up every day requires only the ordinary courage supplied by coffee and dog kisses—for Laura, getting up every day in a land torn by war requires a kind of courage beyond my comprehension.

However: we are both knitters, Laura and I. In fact, I "met" Laura because of a sock pattern:

I love Interweave Knits, and I hope you can help me. I made the Diagonal Rib Socks before I deployed to Iraq. I would love to make another pair, but I left the pattern at home. Would you be able to send it to me? Thank you ever so much!
Sincerely, Laura

I was intrigued. A woman just like me, knitting socks on her time off . . . but knitting them while serving as a soldier in Iraq. Suddenly the TV news images took on a new meaning. I watched and wondered if the video was coming from near where Laura was; every time I heard of a soldier's death, I wondered if it was someone Laura knew.

The war was now real to me. The faceless, nameless soldiers were now "friends of Laura." There was a knitter serving "over there," and my world had grown bigger, from one simple email.

I sent the sock pattern to Laura, and asked her if she could tell me a bit about herself and what her life was like. She wrote back:

Thank you so much for the pattern! This is great! And I'm really looking forward to making them. I'm planning to use some sock yarn that I bought just before coming over here for them. I'll send pictures when they are done.

Sure, I can talk a bit about things over here. I'm at one of the larger bases located near Tikrit, which was Saddam's birthplace. I'm the Preventive Medicine Officer for, well, all of our troops here in northern Iraq. My team is responsible for watching over and working to maintain health. I've been lucky enough to be able to travel to
Ready to convoy
other cities and bases here. That really gives you a feel for the magnificence that was, and can be again, Iraq.

There are a lot of sheep, too! However, they produce mainly rug-quality wool.

I mostly knit in the evenings after work ends. For entertainment, we end up watching a lot of movies, which lends itself nicely to knitting. I've been able to catch up on several TV series, too, while producing socks, a sweater, dolls, puppets and more. I also count myself lucky that internet yarn stores ship to APO addresses! Friends and family send knitting care packages, too, which are great!

I call El Paso, Texas, home, although I am currently (when I'm not deployed) stationed in Ft. Benning, Georgia. We have a small knitting group there that gets together on Monday evenings–I miss them.

I've attached a couple of pictures–one is of me sitting outside my room knitting. The other is me all geared up for a convoy (unlike a lot of other soldiers, I've only been on one short, boring (which is a very good thing!) convoy). I've also attached a couple of photos of the diagonal rib sock's progress.

Thank you again for all your support and thoughtfulness!
Happy Knitting!

That's when I realized I wanted all of you Knitting Daily folks to have a chance to meet this extraordinary knitter. I asked Laura for permission to print her story and photos, and she checked with her Public Information Officer to ensure that the information we published would not put anyone at risk. (Laura also noted that her mom would be thrilled. Laura's mom: We are the ones who are thrilled that you raised such an amazing daughter. Thank you.)

And so our knitting circle grows wider. The emails you all send me every day contain many stories of daily heroism–knitters picking up needles to knit for those in need; knitters battling cancer, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis; knitters caring for elderly parents and longing to have time to knit. I don't know if any of you think of yourselves as heroes; for that matter, I doubt Laura thinks of herself as a hero either. The dictionary defines a hero as "one who shows great courage." I believe anyone who can face death or suffering on a daily basis—and still pick up her needles at the end of the day to knit something beautiful—qualifies as a hero.

This weekend, as you go about your errands, play with your children, or pick up your needles, send good thoughts to Laura and all those in the path of war. As I wrote to Laura after seeing her photos:

I'm so glad you were in a boring convoy. May ALL your convoys be boring!! My hopes and thoughts go out to you and all those you touch this week. Thank you for all that you do.

Here's to all our heroes–those who knit and those who do not.

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