Jamison Chochrek: Friends again?

I am a 31 year old American living in Boise, Idaho, USA. I spent much of my life growing up on US Army bases as my father was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. Before I moved away from (as is the American custom) my family to volunteer for army service, my family was stationed in Italy where I completed my required high school education.

I remember one trip my family took to Berlin in 1988 before “the Wall” fell. We drove from Italy to Berlin crossing through the East German Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo to get into West Berlin to visit friends. To cross the checkpoints, we had to pass through then Soviet controlled checkpoints. I remember being 16 years old and scared to death as we pulled up to the first check point and I saw the then USSR red flag with the hammer and sickel. I was utterly petrified. As the Soviet Soldier approached our car to verify our papers the first thing I saw was the soldier’s AK-47. It sent chills up my spine. Then I looked as his face. I was somewhat calmed by the fact that he looked the same age as I did. He looked nervous. The soldier then looked at my father who was in full military dress uniform. A proud US Paratrooper standing face to face with the young and nervous Soviet Soldier being watched by me the scared adolescent. I remember so clearly the looks that we all exchanged. I remember so vividly thinking to myself “what will happen to our countries and families if WWIII breaks out?” I think both the Russians and the Americans kept this thought on their minds for decades.

I later joined the US Army as well and even became an instructor on Soviet Warfare and Tactics. I spent years in a desert training with thousands of tanks, vehicles and soldiers preparing for the fight with the Soviet Union. Thankfully, we never got that point in reality. Looking back my family invested so much in preparing to fight just as many Russian families did. In hindsight, that was such a waste on both sides. Just imagine how much we could have done together investing that much effort in peaceful endeavors?

As I look back on our history and on how we once were allies to defeat a common enemy (Hitler) and how we are becoming friends again. In between these events was a cold war in which stakes were raised so high that we could destroy the world many times over. What a horrible thought, don’t you think? Now we have an opportunity before us to once again become friends again and against a common enemy (terrorism).

I just wanted you, your readers and all of Russia to know that every American I know is thankful the Cold War stayed cold and we never got to see the horrors of a super-power war. In my opinion, we would have both lost everything. Please know that my country is truly a peace seeking country just I believe yours is. We both have problems, but I believe we both have more good than problems. I know that the great country of Russia has and will continue to undergo great changes just as America has and will. I hope that we can work together to build trust and combine our efforts not only to defeat terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and suffering, but to build a legacy that both our countries will be proud of. Just think of what our two great nations could do together. It will be difficult work, but I sincerely hope that’s work we get to do.

Jamison Chochrek

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