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Monday, October 23, 2006

 

One Soldier Plans a Road Trip Around America



Colonel Tom Vail * Iraq * Casualties * Garry Trudeau

The bluster has become muted, almost gone, but the same old refrain continues to be heard. And every day soldiers, most of them in their 20's -- some even younger -- die in the slaughterhouse that Iraq has turned into. We who opposed the war before the first pair of boots hit the ground feel vindicated but there is no joy. The cost in human terms is numbing; there is only sorrow. Tom Vail's mission is a worthy one. He will face anger, sadness, and questions about the wasted lives. Nevertheless, his personal meetings with bereaved families could provide much-needed closure for some.








From The Observer (Guardian). October 22, 2006

How Iraq Came to Haunt America

Colonel Tom Vail is planning a road trip around the United States. It is his last, sad duty before returning to his family from eastern Baghdad. For when the commander of the 4th Brigade of the 101st Airborne arrives back in the States, it will be with videos of the memorial services held in Baghdad for each of his fallen soldiers to give to the families of the dead men.

He knows that some of the families will not want to see him, and he understands. Grief works in different ways, he says. For others, however, it will be an opportunity to talk, to learn something, he hopes, of the inexplicable nature of their children's deaths.

So, when he has a moment, when he is not driving round the battlefield that is eastern Baghdad, Vail examines the map and plans his flights and his car hire. And he wonders at the reception he will receive - a messenger of death, bringing the war back from Iraq to the home front.

For when Vail and his soldiers return, it will be in the knowledge that the United States that they are going home to is not the one that they left. That in their year-long absence a seismic shift has occurred in support for the war in Iraq. And that the deaths that Colonel Vail must carry back with him to grieving families - deaths that once seemed to Americans to be a necessary cost - now seem to the majority a dreadful and pointless waste.


See Doonesbury's War for Garry Trudeau and stories about injured veterans.

*****

"Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take
Till he knows that too many people have died."
--Bob Dylan


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