WAIVING GOODBYE TO IRAQ
BY JENNIFER RAWLINGS
Soldiers in Iraq are packing up their rucksacks, turning in their Kevlar and helmets, cleaning their guns, and piling into C-130 aircrafts to fly home. On the long flight home many of the soldiers will pass the time on the flight talking about all the things they are going to do when they get home- some will get married, many will start a family, go back to school, lay on the beach. There will be as many “when I get back home plans” as there are soldiers. The soldiers will salivate talking about grilling a steak with corn on the cob and washing it down with an ice-cold beer.
Some of the soldiers will be returning to their childhood bedrooms at their parents house and the high-school memorabilia will still be on the walls because these young soldiers went straight from high school to boot camp. The older reservists and national guard will go back to the “regular jobs” as accountants, mechanics, waitresses, doctors, and stay-at home moms.
All of the soldiers both young and old will be reflecting on what they saw during their deployment in Iraq, many of the soldiers with multi deployments in the seven and half year war.
They will be thinking about the 4, 497 soldiers that have died in Iraq. Maybe one of the dead was bunkmate, or a brother. They will think about the 33,882 injured. They will think about their comrade that lost their leg, their arm and their face. They will think about the soldier that lost their eye-sight, or hearing, or the many soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.
The slide show in the minds of the soldiers will continue and it will drift to the Iraqis the estimates range from 112,625 to 300, 000 dead. And one can assume ten times that number injured. None of the Iraqi’s names get printed in the newspaper. The soldier heading home will probably think about the child they saw killed by roadside bomb, the wailing mother holding her bloodied infant. The old man drinking tea that suddenly vanished into dust during a powerful explosion.
The saddest part of the flight home might be when the soldier under orders from the US military asks themselves. Why? Why were we here? What did we accomplish? For the sake of the soldier I hope their minds get off this topic quickly. Soldiers don’t make decisions about war- politicians do. Soldiers follow orders and risk being court-marshaled if they disobey.
It is the job of the politician to determine the why and the job of history books to determine if it was a success.
The next several weeks will be exciting days for the soldiers returning home. There will be parades, and parties and celebrations with friend and loved ones. The first few weeks will be an exciting and allow the soldiers to blow off some steam.
After a few weeks “life” will set in and the soldiers will have to adjust to being home. Driving a car again and realizing that the piece of trash in the road is NOT an IED, and that a clash of thunder is not a mortar round, and a stalled car is not a suicide bomber.
These will be difficult weeks and months for the returning soldiers, encourage them, listen to them, and love them.
Peace to the soldier.