John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Friday, May 27, 2005
Memorial Day

I started to write up this entry last night and got so pissed off listening to the Republican pundits trying to defend the Bush administration and condemning the Democrats for not rubber-stamping the nomination of John Bolton to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  I won't repeat that Dark Skies Section 60 rant here, but it might be helpful for you to take a minute to read it in order to understand some of what I'm about to say.

My initial motivation to blog about Memorial Day arose from my anger at the U.S. television news media's seemingly cavalier reporting about Iraq.  More often than not, they treat it as if they were reporting some friggin' sports game.  How many times have you heard, "Today, 2 Marines were killed today outside of Baghdad by a car bomb. 20 Iraqi civilians were killed?"

Then 30 seconds later, "Today in the Michael Jackson trial ..." It sickens me.

At the same time, I understand some of the problems any media outlet has trying to report anything in-depth concerning the Iraq War.  Besides the financial burden of sending reporters, hiring local stringers, translators, and security -- a media outlet then faces the accusation of reporting "nothing but bad news about Iraq," if they can even get out of the Green Zone and do any in-depth stories.

Hello?  Iraq is a friggin' war zone the size of Texas.  Without even researching the hard data, I'm going to make a guess that Texas has more law enforcement personnel from the federal, state, county and local level comprising an alphabet-fucking-soup of agencies.  And without including the civil service worker population, Texas 'protectors of Freedom' may just outnumber the 138,000 military service personnel in Iraq.  What the hell kind of news would one expect?

Iraq is not a baseball game or video game. Recent news reports of defacto al-Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi being injured has the media attention of a head coach firing on an NCAA basketball team.  Even more troubling, Donald Rumsfeld recently compared him to Hitler -- in denial of the fact that the insurgency and foreign terrorism in Iraq isn't ever going to copitulate for us to see some VE day.

And I don't criticize Rumsfeld lightly.  He serves at the pleasure of the Democrusader.  He and his DoD team are doing an amazing job at transforming the U.S. military out of the Cold War posture and into 21st century readiness -- while at the same time conducting a war.  Historically, this is a bit unprecedented.

My minimal respect for Rumsfeld doesn't innoculate him from my criticism, though. I find it ironic that Rumsfeld compares al-Zarqawi to Hitler when a billion people around the planet, and even millions of Americans, compare his Commander in Chief to the same icon of evil for unilaterally invading another country.

So what are we left with?  U.S. citizens are left with glib and cursory stories created from the one-sentence DoD casualty announcements, sometimes with some added file footage video, or perhaps a real syndicated seven-second video from the event once in a while.

I decided to pick one day, May 26th, and learn more about the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq.  The image above shows 8 people whose lives tragically ended in Iraq on May 26th.  The first three died last year, and the rest in 2003.  Anger toward our political leaders turns to sadness when I look into their eyes.

This is why I entitled the Dark Skies rant Section 60:
"Beyond the Tomb of the Unknowns, in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery, we have laid to rest Americans who fell in the battle of Iraq. One of the funerals was for Marine Second Lieutenant Frederick Pokorney Junior, of Jacksonville, North Carolina. His wife, Carolyn, received a folded flag. His two year old daughter, Taylor, knelt beside her mother at the casket to say a final goodbye."
-- past Bush remarks on Memorial Day
Sadness for our country turns into private sadness for their children or people who knew these eight people, when I read what their friends say on web sites.  Click the person's name to read comments left by those who knew these eight people killed in Iraq on May 26th.  If you need a big cry, just remember that there are 364 more days to mourn 1600+ young people killed or 6300+ gravely injured.  I'm not going to paraphrase anything about these eight people, you can click on their name and read it for yourself.

Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Codner, 19, from Nebraska.
Marine Cpl. Matthew C. Henderson, 25, from Nebraska.
Marine Cpl. Dominique J. Nicolas, 25, from Arizona.

Army Staff Sgt. Brett J. Petriken, 30, from Michigan.
Army Maj. Mathew E. Schram, 36, from Wisconsin.
Army Sgt. Keman L. Mitchell, 24, Florida.
Army Pvt. 2 Kenneth A. Nalley, 19, from Iowa.
Army Pfc. Jeremiah D. Smith, 25, from Missouri.

Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years.  Death hangs over thee.  While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good.

Book IV - 17, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

 Florida Chapter

[Headphones] :: I for an I - Ten Speed Indian

Posted at 03:11 pm by John Furie Zacharias

May 27, 2005   04:17 PM PDT

I blogged this permalink, I hope you don't mind. I was very moved reading this and want to share it.

Thank you
May 27, 2005   05:02 PM PDT
Excellent piece, John...content we should all read and hold close.
J f Z
May 29, 2005   01:23 PM PDT
CNN highlighted all the "Smiths" killed in the Iraq the other night while I had the TV on for noise while I was doing something else. I looked up when they put Jeremiah's photo (the same one I have here) on the tube. I was like, WTF?! I stopped what I was doing and watched it.

I think that is my goal too. Take a minute and honor these young people who are dying daily in Iraq.

Politics aside - red or blue state - have some military green in your heart for these people and their families making the dreaded ultimate sacrifice.
May 29, 2005   07:07 PM PDT
Each one of these people died before they reached the age I was when I met the love of my life.

Some of them died before I had gotten married the first time.

Some had died before I had my first child.

Everyone one of them left behind someone who is going to have a hard time going to sleep at night knowing they will never see their loved one again. Or hold them. Or say they were sorry. Or tell them they are loved. Or even get mad at them for doing something stupid.

We can all be angry but it seems like a helpless anger. It saddens me to the point where I don't even like to hear about or read things like this. But I respect you deeply JfZ and I appreciate you putting it out there, in my face. We need to be able and/or allowed to break loose from the anesthetization the media and goverment pundits schmooze us with that makes the war seem like another movie or video game. Violence has unfortunately become such an accepted, commonplace icon in cartoons or video games, movies, even Jerry Springer that people absorb horror as entertainment rather than reality. Not that I consider the war a form of entertainment by any stretch of the imagination. But this is an excellent wake-up call. Good writing. Thank you for existing JfZ.
June 3, 2005   12:46 AM PDT
Good post!!! I have much more to say but feel a tad to lazy to type it now....anyways keep up the good writing!
Sinister Ninja
June 3, 2005   03:36 AM PDT
Another great one, J.

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