And Today in IraqAlmost every day on one news cast or another, I hear those words. And they are usually followed with a body count of young men or women who have been wounded or killed in one awful way or another in Iraq. And for a while like too many others, I often hesitated for only a moment, then moved on with what ever it was that I was doing with only a slight pause or reflection of "oh how awful" or " that damn Bush".
It seems to me that in this society, we have done a good job of sanitizing or cleaning up everything that may happen to us which would in any way make us uncomfortable. Mel Gibson hit that nerve with his recent movie "The Passion of the Christ" which depicted the gruesomeness of the Crucification far beyond the straight toothed, hair combed "cleaned up", Caucasian dominated story that Hollywood had always portrayed in the past. Oh, we glorify war or violence and seem to take a morbid fascination in the macabre things such as mass murderers or Columbines. But those things are so far on the fringe of reality they don’t really seem real to us. But think for a minute what we tend to do with the death of a family member or friend. What we do not do is personalize the tragedy. We tend to do all we can keep the process of burying and mourning, neat, orderly, civilized and ritually restrained.
The current Administration has decided to not allow the filming and broadcast of the soldiers caskets as they return home from Iraq. They learned the lesson of Viet Nam. The long line of flag draped coffins had a lot to do with feeding the antiwar movement of that time. Not so this war. On the evening news today we only show the bodies of Iraqis. After all we do not want to disturb any Americans with the reality that people, no Americans, are dying in this war. OK, to show the bloody, mutilated bodies of Arabs. I watched with familiar horror the news film footage of the U.S. Marines shooting at a prostrate, wounded Iraqi, who had moments before been shooting at them, until the tell tale of a bullet hitting its’ mark and the man moved no more. I do not criticize, I understand what war can do and what it means to be someone’s target. This is a war, and wars are not neat, orderly, civilized and ritually restrained.
I met this person and she has become a friend, a good friend that I do not want to see hurt. And, as result of getting to know her, I have learned about her life and her family. She has a twenty something son and she has shared many stories of his teenage years with me. He reminds me so much of me at that age. I was always in one form of trouble or another. I was a constant source of worry for my Mom. I meant well, but just couldn’t resist the seedier side of life. But, unlike those who dwelled and seemed to prosper there, I didn’t have the heart for it so I was really not a very good wise guy. So it was with her son. The more I hear about her son the more I identify and the more I see how much he means to her. He is the lost sheep found, the prodigal son come home, he is a young soldier serving with the 82nd in Iraq.
Today, when I hear the evening news or the NPR news update that tells about another "incident" in Iraq, I stop and say a sincere prayer, "please God not Chad". You see this war has gotten personal because I now know and sincerely care for one young soldier over there. So, let me suggest this to you who stumble across this Blog. Take time out of your busy lives to find out about one, just one, American Soldier serving in Iraq. Get to know him as a person. Get to know his family. Make this war personal. Don’t let the media sanitize this war anymore. Every heart in America should pain, really pain and feel the fear so many families feel when we hear the evening news announcement " and today in Iraq, there’s been another incident---".