In “A note to our Minnesota readers” this past May, I posted a request from Sgt. David Thul. Sgt. Thul is a member of the Minnesota National Guard serving with Weapons Company 1-133 in Iraq; he noted a shortage of conservative reading material on hand for him and his colleagues. At the time he first wrote, Sgt. Thul observed that Sean Hannity’s Let Freedom Ring had circulated around his unit several times, but beyond that the shelf was bare.
We immediately heard from readers all over the country who pitched in to answer the call. We subsequently received messages from both Mrs. Heather Thul and from Sgt. Thul himself attesting to the overwhelming response from our readers. Today Sgt. Thul writes with an update and several photographs:
Thank you again for your post and for the books you sent. Though it may seem like a small thing to you, your package and the hundreds of others I have received have been appreciated in two big ways. First for the contents, which have been so popular among my soldiers. Our mission here is convoy security and IED hunting. The bulk of our missions are escorting fuel water and supplies from the Jordan-Iraq border to our base, north and west of Baghdad. We spend between 6 and 14 hours a day on the road, watching for any sign of roadside bombs and the terrorists who employ them. It is, like most combat, a strange combination of unbearable boredom punctuated by moments of heart pounding stress. By necessity we drink gallons of soda and coffee to stay alert. The downside to this is that when we reach our destination we are wired and high strung from caffeine and adrenaline. The books you sent provide a transition between mission time and down time. A chance for us to forget about IEDs and delve into politics or history or just a good mystery novel. Secondly, we appreciate the dramatic impact of receiving so many packages from complete strangers back in the world. Though most of the guys here don’t consciously believe the negative reports we see on the TV news and newspapers from home, it’s impossible not to let doubt creep into your mind when it is repeated so often. But now there is a visible reminder of the support we have at home, in the form of the Power Line Library.
A photo depicts the Power Line logo on a placard over a bookshelf. The placard reads:
Power Line Library.
These books and magazines generously donated by the readers of Power Line.
Sgt. Thul’s message continues:
I hope I’m not violating copyright law with the name or the logo, but it seemed appropriate.
I started out with one bookshelf I bought from the PX. One bookshelf quickly became two……which then became three bookshelves. This one [the third] we built because the PX was sold out.
I am still amazed by the huge response. I did a google search of my name yesterday to find over a hundred listings of your post either reprinted, linked to, or simply passed around in emails. I received packages filled with books, magazines, newspapers, candy, cigars, DVD movies, musical CD’s, and one envelope from a gentleman who apologized that he had no books to send so was instead sending the latest issue of Playboy.
Most touching were the handwritten notes and letters thanking all of us for serving and asking us to relay any other requests. I kept all of the letters, and the addresses of everyone who sent packages, and as time permits I am sending thank you notes to as many as I can.
Most impressive to me is the lasting effect all of this will have. For myself, I was a moderate conservative until, like many, I was galvanized into action by 9/11. Politically I am now a strong conservative, or maybe neoconservative, depending on where the line between the two is. As I work my way through the deluge of books and magazines, I am now finding the arguments for those principles I believe in. I can now express my thoughts in a much more logical way.
For the soldiers in my unit, there is now a wealth of information available to help them decide where they stand politically, as well as a way to temporarily escape the reality of where we are. When my unit is done, we will be replaced by a new group of American soldiers, who will benefit from all of these books as well. And eventually, Al Asad air base will be turned back over to the Iraqis. I can’t help but wonder if five to ten years from now, some Iraqi soldier will be teaching himself to read English with the words of Ann Coulter or Bill Bennett.
We are winning the peace over here, slowly but surely. I look forward to telling my grandchildren someday about the small part I had to play in keeping America safe from terrorism. God willing, I hope that my grandchildren will grow up as unaware of the threat of terrorism as my children are growing up unaware of the threat of Communism.
SGT Dave Thul
It seems like a shame to stop now. Sgt. Thul’s mailing address is:
SGT Dave Thul
Weapons Company 1-133
Sincere thanks to all our readers who responded, with a special thanks to Janet Beihoffer, Royal Dellinger, Brad Miner of Doubleday Entertainment’s American Compass Books and Compass Points Blog, and to author Steve Hayward, who contributed his most recent book, on Reagan and Churchill.
JOHN adds: We are honored to have the library named after us. Sgt. Thul also added a postscript expressing his amusement over the ontological controversy regarding Lt. Tom Cotton:
I had to laugh at the fuss created by the LT Tom Cotton letter. Any soldier or family member can search the Army white pages and find 2LT Tom Cotton, his unit, and his email address. Guess there’s not too many soldiers on the other side of the aisle.
UPDATE: Bill Bennett and Seth Leibsohn have taken a moment out from their Morning in America show this morning to write that they’re sending a copy of Bill’s America: The Last Best Hope (Voume I). Thanks, guys!