A sailor writes home from Oman

EDITOR'S NOTE: U.S. Navy Petty Officer Nick Amorelli, 32, the son of Chris and Nick Amorelli of Ashland, sent this letter to his parents recently from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, where he is serving a six- to nine-month deployment with a helicopter squadron. He is a 1996 graduate of Ashland High School.

OCT. 27, 2010, MASIRAH, OMAN — Just returned from a little four-day detail into Masirah, Oman "… Ah, dry land. Forgot how much I missed it. Wasn't much, just doing some flying to get re-qualified "… the fun stuff!

Oman was my first Middle Eastern country, even if it was a military base on the middle of a desert island (literally). Still, the food was amazing, the weather was warm and dry, the work day was short, the flying was fun and most importantly, it wasn't on a boat!

I even made a friend while I was there. You know me, I try to learn a little bit of the language when and where I can; the locals seem to appreciate the effort. An older Pakistani gentleman named Mohammed Afzal, who was our waiter in the mess hall. He was extremely nice and had the patience to put up with my constant stream of questions at meal time. To be honest I think he enjoyed teaching me as much as I enjoyed learning.

On my second to last day, at breakfast, he gave me a gift. It was a CD he had burned for me of the Quran (Arabic to English translation) which also included the recitation (in Islam they "sing" the Quran instead of read it "… very beautiful). It was a pretty thoughtful gesture and the recitation is very soothing to listen to "… can't help it, it's my Ashland-liberal-multi-cultural thing in me "… can't get rid of it "… don't really want to.

Despite the fact our conversations were limited to meal times, we talked in some length about Islam and some of prevailing the Western views of what's going on in the Middle East.

We talked about the "Muslim extremist" ideas that the world has about the area and how his culture has been viewed by much of the Anglo-Christian world. He expressed to me his concern over this viewpoint and told me how there is no way these "extremists" could be Muslim.

Their ideas, their actions stood in strong opposition of the Quran's teachings. He told me that they could not be Muslim, how on this very day, earlier that very morning these extremists had bombed a mosque in his hometown in Pakistan, killing mostly women and children. He told me that many of these people (Taliban extremists) recruited children and young adults who can't read, and know very little of the "real" Quran. They tell them of their version of the Quran and what they needed to do to fulfill their religious obligations to the Taliban.

But most importantly, he wanted me to understand that most Muslims were not how the media perceives them on a large scale. He encouraged me to listen to the recitations on the CD he gave me; "It will give you a sense of peace when you hear the words "… I promise you." I have heard bits and pieces of the recitation before, in my travels and interactions with other like-minded people. But Mom, to listen to it in its natural order "… very moving "… very peaceful indeed. Attached is a photo of Mr. Afzal and I "… Mohammed Afzal, my short-term language teacher "… my friend.

Petty Officer Greg Amorelli

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