Felecia Hurley is a daddy's girl, her mother says. And Felecia's daddy is in Saudi Arabia.
She hasn't seen him since before Christmas or talked with him since before the Persian Gulf war began. She hasn't gotten any letters in weeks, either.
But Felecia, who is 9, remembers the fun she and her father, Sergeant First Class Ross C. Hurley, used to have together. And she's thinking about the movies they'll see and the places they'll go when he comes home.
Felecia's father is with the 400th Military Police Battalion from Fort Meade. Her dad will know what she was thinking, feeling and hoping while he was on the Saudi sands because Felecia is keeping an almost-daily journal.
In a gray, spiral-bound notebook decorated with hearts and "I love you's" and with smiley faces filling the "o's" and "a's" in the word journal, Felecia writes her thoughts about her father and the war. She intends to save it so "when he comes back, he'll think I've been thinking about him a lot," she says.
He'll also know that she was sometimes sad:
. . . when it hurts out in public, I just cry inside."
I am writing this poem
Because I want my father at home.
I miss all the jokes he told me . . .
And sometimes worried:
My older sister Lyn says that everything will be all right. I believe her, but sometimes it just gets on my mind.
The journal is for Felecia, too.
"I thought it was good to write my feelings down," says the fourth grader at Randallstown Elementary School. "I write my thoughts down so I won't have so much trouble.
"Sometimes when he was just over there and the war hadn't started, I felt like he was going to come back safely. Now, I'm not so sure," she says, thoughtfully.
Felecia writes poems; she also writes cinquains, five-line compositions she learned to Felecia writes poems; she also she writes cinquains, five-line compositions she learned to write in third grade. The first and last lines are the same and each of the three middle lines is one word longer than the line before it:
Caring, loving, smart
I love him alot
But, mainly, Felecia writes letters to her journal. In them she says how much she loves her father and misses him and prays he'll come back in good health.
Felecia shares the journal with her mother, her older sisters and her guidance counselor, Rena Shenk, who suggested she keep a journal. She doesn't, however, open it to her friends. "Mrs. Shenk says it's private," says Felecia, who wears a green, plastic combat soldier on a chain around her neck.
Nor does she talk about the war much with her friends, she says, although it comes up in the classroom often. But Felecia does like to ride bikes with her friends, who live just up the street in her Randallstown neighborhood, where many houses are decorated with yellow ribbons and American flags. She also plays the viola, takes gymnastics lessons and likes to sleep over at friends' homes.
January 16 rolls around
Bombs dropping is the only sound
No civilians are in sight
People are dying left and right
The sound of shouting, ATTACK, ATTACK
It's time to rid Kuwait of Iraq
American troops will not die in vain
To rid the earth of Saddam Hussein
Civilians in Kuwait have bit the dust
That's why winning this war is a must
Freedom is what it's all about,
Let's end this quickly and pull our troops out.
Chris White, Greg Suekoff,
Jay Shin, 8th grade
Johnnycake Middle School
In their words
I hate the war
Saddam, get out now!
Saddam, you don't belong there
I wish the men do not die
I am glad that the planes got through
hope Saddam gets defeated
Is he going to be defeated?
I hope they don't bomb Baltimore
Brendon Parker, 3rd grade
Deep Creek Elementary School
6,I disagree with the war in the Middle East.
I disagree with the ware because lots of innocent people get hurt or killed.
People that live in the Middle East have to watch their homes, work, schools and their country get blown up.
Also, people have to watch their loved ones go million of miles away to go to war.
Rachel Gillispie, 5th grade