Sunday, January 31, 2010


Memories flash through consciousness: A smoking slab of meat on a Baghdad street - the torso of a car bomber; 124 Iraqis, most of them schoolchildren, dead from three car bombs; three Americans being put into body bags on Senators after a roadside bomb ripped them to bloody shreds; an overlooked boot with foot inside and dog tags in the laces; gashes left in Humvee armor from two RPGs that hit and glanced off; a bullet hole in the back wall of a Humvee from a round that came in the open window as everyone inside returned fire during an ambush; White alive in the mess hall and dead on patrol; Christoph teaching Iraqis to read a map, and dead on patrol; Conboy alive on patrol and then dead from a stupid accident back on base; Ramseyer cleaning his M4 in Afghanistan and dead in Iraq; Allen alive through a year’s deployment, then dead of invisible wounds sustained in combat; too many hot zone landings, endless dusty roads, night raids, car stops, sullen faces, explosions, mortars, small arms fire, anxiety, no exit.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Evolution of thought

Visitors to this blog see the most recent posts first, and immediately sense disenchantment with the wars. It wasn't always so. If visitors go to the oldest posts first, and work forward through time, they will see this disenchantment evolve over repeated trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. I noticed that the other day when reviewing the archives in chronological order, oldest to newest. So many have died in these wars. Some live in my memory; most live on in the memories of those who knew and loved them. Did these deaths serve a purpose? A friend, a journalist whose beloved died in Iraq, spoke about her life and death, and ended with the words, "Was there some purpose to this? I hope so."
Ted Kennedy spoke of a letter his father wrote to a friend when a child had died. Why the death? How to go on? What's the sense in that loss? We have to go on, the letter said, fold the loss into ourselves, appreciate the value of life and not waste it going forward.
Maybe part of maturity is being able to do that, to savor joy of the fleeting moment in the shadow of inevitable sorrow.