~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A little thing I like to call, "The Creepiest Picture I Have Ever Seen In My Entire Life..."

The war was over, and there we were in Diwaniya, Iraq at the height of summer 2003. Sweating, stripped down to nearly naked, camped atop a grassless, dusty medical landfill, fighting debilitating gastro-intestinal distress, shooing latrine flies from our faces and contributing to post-war rebuilding and security. Trust me, it was a thoroughly miserable three months. One of our few joys was receiving letters and packages from home, a rare event given the remotness of our position. Finally, no longer on the move, mail began to catch up to us on the front lines (well, one step behind the front lines, as we were attached to the HQ Company of a Marine infantry battalion.)

A flood of letters arrived from various elementary school kids, most of which were touching in their naive patriotism, sweet in their unconditional support. These letters and post cards truly made our day, especially when letters from family were absent from the mail bag.

But every so often, an oddball sentiment made it's way through to us. There was the boy from Arizona who lamented, "It's sad that I am here safe while you are 'Over There' and 'In The Way.'" I'm parphrasing because his english was apparently none too good. And then there was the bumblebee picture that I like to call The Creepiest Picture I Have Ever Seen In My Entire Life.

It was hand drawn in bright crayon, a bumblebee crudely rendered in midflight with a big 'ol frown complete with dripping tears and a speech ballon which read, "Farewell, old friend."

We imediately taped it to the humvee in plain sight of the center of our outdoor camp. We indulged in many bemused discussions about what this poor kid's teacher said to convince the artist of our eminent demise. We were truly "In The Way" but not seriously worried about it. I mean, war has a way of hardening the mind when it comes to thoughts of mortality. But this kid was convinced of our doom, unaware of the casual, random nature of wartime unluckiness.

In the end, this letter was no less touching than the uber-patriotic letters from the other kids. Perhaps even more touching. It would be nice if all civillians understood the exact nature of war, the stress, the chaos, the immense satisfaction of being a part of a force for good. Alas, it will never be like that. When a school child displays a warped view of war, it's understandable. But the creepy thing is imagining what his teacher said to convey those feelings. This kid's bleak outlook could've been a result of something innocuous like, "You should honor these men and women for the sacrifices they make." But it could just as easily have been a statement like, "George Bush, your president, is sending these men and women off to die."

Not knowing which comment inspired the weeping bumblebee is what makes it creepy.

Others think this phenomenom may be more sinister than creepy. But I hold onto the view that it's just saddening.

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