Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Word From Iraq

The New Yorker's June 12 "Summer Fiction: Life During Wartime" edition feathers "Dispatches from Iraq," (can't find it online) stories from our men and women serving in Iraq. All the pieces are well written and moving, but a couple passages stand out for me.

Second Lieutenant Brian Humphreys, serving in Hit, Iraq, writes,
"Our occupation grinds on. Others will assign meaning to our lives here, noble or otherwise. For us, though, there is a close meanness to the fight. There are no flags, no dress uniforms. We are fighting a rival gang for the same turf, while the neighborhood residents cower and wait to see whose side they should come out on."
Humphreys also writes,
"Iraq is coming apart at the seams. Pictures of flag-draped coffins being unloaded from Air Force transports surface on the back reaches of the Interneet, as if they were a grainy celebrity sex video that decent people should avoid looking at. But I think otherwise. The images of flag-draped coffins show the end of war as we are meant to see it, and as we are meant to believe it. Uniforms, flags, patriotism, honor, sacrifice. In these images we are not street fighters struggling to survive and kill in a distant gangland but soldiers in the nation's service."

I'll leave the last word to Captain Lisa R. Blackman, serving as a clinical psychologist in Qatar, who writes,
"Next time you are hanging out with a friend, think about what you would do if he turned to you and said, 'My boss made me kill someone, and I know I'm going to hell for it, so why bother?' What would you say to 'normalize' that?

I will probably never see these folks again. I have no ieda if I have been helpful. Maybe I planted a seed of reprieve that will grow into self-forgiveness. Maybe I did absolutely nothing but sit here. Who knows?

I can't stop thinking about the fact that these folks have lsot something that they will never get back - innocence (and a life free of guilt). My heart hurts for them."
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