Counting down the days until my return to Iraq

by Brendan Gaughan

After a seasonís worth of what I consider a poor attempt at being a writer, Iíve come to realize writing isnít the difficult part. On many different levels, I have stated the same thing, but here I go, again.

My high school English teacher may disagree with me, but Iíve found the difficulty has not been in the writing because, fortunately, I have editors, unlike in my school days. The challenge has been presented in coming up with a topic each week. Earlier this year, I offered kudos to the motorsports beat writers, but I would like to commend them once more for their creativity.

Some weeks have been relatively easy. Those weeks typically seem to coincide with good performance on the race track. Sometimes, I just have a boring week and I have to really dig way down deep. Such is life.

Just like most aspects, ancillary things are easier to accomplish when the primary objects in life are running smoothly, and vice versa. In light of recent events, it has become easier to endure the more difficult days. It is still fresh in our minds that these days are precious and we all must try to live each of them to the fullest, even when the going gets tough.

Now to the real crux of the story. Thanks to the George W, Bush victory, my annual tour to show my support for the troops overseas is closer to becoming a reality for 2004. For those of you who have not heard about this tour, it is great. The past few years the trip has been organized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or the ESGR, in conjunction with another great organization, Speedway Child-rens Charities. The trip has taken us overseas and most recently to Iraq. Only a few of us in the NASCAR community have participated every year.

For me, personally, it is the true highlight of my year.

Before the presidential election was decided, we knew the other guy was not going to let us go and support our troops. This year, I have been told that SCC will handle the trip with retired Air Force Gen. Tom Sadler and Deb Wilson handling the tripís logistics.

I love our military and I want to send, once more, a heartfelt thank you to all who have touched my life. To those of you who are heading back overseas in the coming weeks, God speed and good luck. To those of you who are still there, keep kickiní butt! I canít wait to come and visit you guys soon, so be on the lookout for the three amigos: Jeff Hammond, Rick Crawford and myself. Gee, I hope you guys have committed, because if not, I just accepted for you.

Some ask if I am scared to head overseas. My reply is simple Ė no way. What scares me is show-and-tell with a first-grade class.

Due to my columns this year, most everyone knows another one of my favorite subjects is my nieces and nephews. As I write this, it is Sunday before the Phoenix race and it is raining. The rain bothers me more this week because on Monday I am supposed to be in Vegas for an extremely important meeting. My nephew, little Johnny (and yes he is the epitome of the "little Johnny" jokes), asked me to go to school with him as show-and-tell for his first-grade class. Now, I have done quite a few things in school with children, like going to my other main manís, or Brock-oli Bawelís, school to talk to his kindergarten class in Jasper, Ind. Never have I been the object of show-and-tell and I am a little nervous about it.

I can talk to a hundred kids and be the human jungle gym, but show-and-tell for one of the most important people in my life, whew, the pressure is on. I only hope I can perform up to expectations.

Well, thatís it for this round. Good luck to everyone overseas. I will see you soon, and wish me luck, because Uncle Breni doesnít want to let little Johnny down.

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