5 July, 2007: Though my intent was to symbolically write and post on our Nation’s birthday, the fireworks presentation proffered by the enemy precluded my own desires yesterday. How ironic…
David Finkel, the Washington Post writer, has returned from his hiatus for another extended stay with the Soldiers of 2-16 IN. His mission, as I understand it, is to write a book which he intends as a journey of sorts, describing the physical, philosophical, spiritual, and ideological changes we all will and are inevitably undergoing during this tour in Iraq. I don’t know what part, if any, I will have in his manuscript; nevertheless thinking about his work prompts me to take an introspective look at myself and these last five months. Hopefully I can help you, whoever you are, understand us a little bit better.
This war is not Vietnam. It is not World War II, or Korea, or the Gulf War, or any of the other conflicts that it is inevitably compared to in the journalistic pages back home. We will, I trust, not receive the same rancorous return that awaited my Uncle’s generation upon his return from the Orient. Though this conflict has been enormously expensive, the human losses have not yet climbed close to what they amounted to in the Seventies. At the same time, each loss is as keenly felt as ever. We are not The Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw has dubbed my grandfather and his peers. The numbers who have served in this war do not yet approach those of 1941-45, and yet they are of enough significance that I think they will in some way have great influence in history. The veterans of this conflict will hold their own unique legacy, whatever it may be. When we return, we will attempt to fit back into a world nearly as fast paced as the one we currently inhabit, back into commercial America, the world of malls, fashions, parties and stock markets; back into the world of unlimited prosperity. We will attempt to go back to church, wondering if the preacher in the pulpit talking about poverty in some far country has ever smelled the stench of human feces in open trenches, or seen the look of hopelessness in the eyes of black-clad women walking war-rubbled streets; we’ll wonder if the successful out-of-shape suburbanite, sitting next to us in Bible study and thanking God for His mercy, has ever had indelibly imprinted in his senses the smell of his friend’s burnt flesh, the one that didn’t make it out of the Humvee in time, or stood next to the corpse in which resides a 5.56 round that only moments before was in the chamber of his weapon. We will invariably react defensively at first to loud noises, as we do now. We will find it difficult to vote; politicians make many promises, and break nearly as many. Politicians, civilian or military, have at heart the next election primarily, or their place in history, or the next promotion. We will outwardly say “you’re welcome” and smile when you say thank you for serving, while we inwardly recite the names of Cajimat, Craig, Crowe, Payne, and Gajdos, and wonder why they really had to die, and if Iraq will remember their names.
The bottom line is that my platoon and I have surpassed 120 days in Iraq; we have been blown up and shot at so much that it is almost expected; we have returned fire and arrested the IED emplacers. We have seen everything the insurgency has to offer and have returned the same. When I first began writing, I was not sure I would even have the chance to earn the CIB; now that that fact has been assured many times over, none of the medals or badges or acclaim matters. When war was merely a fantasy of prose and film, I was philosophical and idealistic; it is now a sensation of sight, smell, and touch, and the idealism and philosophy has been replaced by cold facts, and they are these: (1) Republicans and Democrats can go to hell. (2) Concern for the welfare of innocent Iraqis is increasingly frustrated by our perception that they will risk very little to secure their own future. (3) The warrior’s axiom that “you fight for the man next to you” should be biblical, for no words ever rung truer. If I lose not one more man to this war during the duration of our duty, that will be an acceptable outcome; I will take all steps in my power to secure this end.
- My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
July 5th in Iraq
This is the post on Nate's blog today. I'm posting all of it here because I couldn't pick just a portion of it. Please stop by there and let him know we're thinking of him and all those fighting this war.