The subject of the war in Iraq is intriguing for me because of personal relationships I have connecting my experiences to Iraq. While I’ve never been there, I have a good friend who was forced to leave Iraq about 5 years ago, fleeing with his family from Saddam Hussein’s regime, taking his life into his hands as they fled in the night. I talked with Sam just after our class discussion and he said the news has been so distressing to him that he quit watching it.
Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine from middle school was killed in Iraq (http://homepage.mac.com/joseph.tesauro/EYEWITNESS_NEWS/FileSharing13.html [Link Edited]. His unit was fighting a known terrorist cell and the leader of the cell was also killed in that fight. Karl was doing what he felt called to do, helping people he didn’t even know.
Another friend of mine is currently serving as a Chaplain to a National Guard unit, stationed at the moment in Iraq. Here’s what Ben said: “soldiers do seem to get excited about what they are doing here as they get out and meet people. Yea, there are all the political stuff back in the states, but it doesn’t really come through as much here. Here the bottom line is we are here with a poor people who have been oppressed, and they are seeking to rebuild a country while a few bad apples try to ruin things. It is exciting to be a part of something good, and that is how many soldiers begin to look at it, political stuff aside.”
While Ben’s stories and Sam’s life seem to conflict with each other, I’m sure that if those two were to talk about the situation, Sam’s mind would be put at ease. Right now all he’s heard are stories of despair and no hope. The media has portrayed a side to the war that silences whatever else is taking place, like the stories of hope that Ben has told, stories of rebuilding schools that UR grad Scott Irwin has told. I’m not a big fan of going over and killing people, and perhaps the wrong action was taken in starting the war. But hearing the true stories, not what the media tells us, gives a brighter picture. If more people heard these stories, instead of story after story of soldiers and innocent Iraqis being killed, would there be a different view on the war? a lot of people are taking action against a war that they’ve only heard about through the media—how can we possibly know what we’re moving for if the media’s portrayal is so skewed? Hopefully it will end soon and there won’t be any question about it.
As for these soldiers fighting for a victory that will never be theirs, I think that too is a bleak portrayal of the situation. Whether or not they ever put a name to a face, the soldiers are meeting the people of Iraq who are benefiting from this military action and are seeing the full effect of what they’re doing. That sure seems like the reward is becoming partly theirs as a piece of themselves connects with the people of Iraq.