In Her Time



I was feeding my baby the day the twin towers fell.  I was in shock as I saw one tower fall…then the other.  My husband was home on leave from Korea and I woke him to come downstairs and see what I saw; to help me make sense of it.  I remember crying all day thinking of the people on the plane trying to call home as they waited, imprisoned on a plane that they knew just became a missile. Later that afternoon, I remember dropping a jar of spaghetti in the kitchen sink as I watched the news.  I cried as I tried to clean up the mess and succeeded in cutting my hand; my vision blurred from the tears.  I gave up on the mess, wrapped my hand in a towel, sat down on the staircase, and cried.  We were a nation in shock.

For days we watched the towers fall over and over and we all got angrier and angrier.  Our helplessness, frustration, and fear suddenly alleviated when our leaders vowed vengeance. In the spirit of candor and concision, I’ll refrain from enumerating the millions of wrong reasons our leaders sent in troops.  I could malign our leaders for pages for the lies we have believed or were told in order to justify a meaningless war, but I will only mention that ten years later our soldiers–who only wanted a job, who only want to get up and go to work every day, who only want to defend our country and provide for their families–are still in the Middle East fighting, occupying, rebuilding, waiting to come home, and dying.  And for what?  Religious and political liberation?  Oil?  Freedom?  For whose freedom are they fighting?  Certainly not mine.  Last I checked we aren’t being attacked.

My husband was friends with and served alongside Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne who was tried for a war crime in Iraq.  He fatally shot a wounded Iraqi insurgent who was severely burned, dying, suffering, and beyond available medical assistance, rather than leave him to die slowly. He served one year of a three year term, spending 55 days of those days in solitary confinement in a wooden box where he suffered nothing short of outright abuse.  He was left for hours, starved, and forced to sit in his own waste.  He was discharged from the U.S. military as a Private.  Horne thought with his heart, not his head, and his testimony here is riveting, emotional, and asks some very pertinent questions about our presence in the Middle East.

When put to the test, Horne, and many soldiers like him, have two choices in today’s military—go to prison for doing what they are trained to do…or die.  And as Horne puts it—“If you hesitate, you die.”

Those politicians on the Hill responsible for this ridiculous war should be the ones brought up on war crimes, every one of them.  Instead we keep re-electing them.  And while our soldiers fight a political war, they write books, clap each other on the back, cover each other’s asses, and tell each other what a great job they are doing.   What I can’t figure out is whom they are trying to convince—the American public and the rest of the world or the person they have to look at every day in the mirror?

It’s interesting (and pathetic) to note that Dick Cheney’s book In My Time:  A Personal and Political Memoir was released just short of two weeks prior to the tenth anniversary of the Sept 11th attacks—coincidence?  Doubtful.  It’s an insult to those who fought and died under the administration’s command.  Those politicians responsible for sending American soldiers to war to avenge a political vendetta between the Senior Bush and Hussein, to procure oil fields, to show the world that America is a force to be reckoned with are not good enough reasons to me to remain in a ten year war.  Dick Cheney, Paul Bremer, and George W. Bush have no real military experience and have never been on the receiving end of the half assed and misguided orders they so cavalierly gave to our troops on the ground.

My daughter has grown up watching this war on the nightly news.  In her time she has never known an America that is not at war.  In her time—12 years—over 5000 soldiers have died.  How do I teach my daughter to respect our leaders and the orders they send down the line to protect our liberties, our soil?  I suppose I can begin teaching her when we begin to elect real leaders; because in her time that has yet to happen.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I have to ask: When do we open our eyes, raise our voices, and say enough is enough?

Lest it be forgotten…


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