Monday, January 08, 2007

A Shared Nightmare

Last night I watched the movie American Soldier. I probably shouldn't have done that...

Anyone who has a loved one that is actively serving or has served in Iraq dreams about that soldier. It doesn't take a stretch of imagination to understand the nature of those dreams. Those dreaming would not be waking up with a lifted heart after a dream of homecoming, but rather to overwhelming sadness upon the realization that the dream was what it was, merely a dream. Others dreaming would be coming out of sleep locked in terror, as the news of day has wove it's story around their soldier and the grim reality that, although it is a nightmare, it could happen to the one they love.

American Soldier tells a story of a day in 1st Cavalry's history. It was April 12, 2004. The small band of soldiers encounter what was, at that time, some of the deadliest moments since the war ended, or so the ending credits said. We all know that that claim has since then been surpassed in numbers of our soldiers dead.

I shouldn't have watched the movie. My son, who was in Fallujuah at the time this movie was dated, was in the next room and he came in to see what I was watching. He left the room as quickly as he entered it, without saying a word. Like a glutton for punishment I watched on, reliving a past of nightmares and anxious moments of the year he was there. As I watched I developed an excrutiating headache, which should have been the second reason to quit the movie, but instead of turning it off I hit the motrin bottle and continued on.

The movie was a reinactment of my nightmares that came back repeatedly during that year he was gone. The soldiers portrayed the questions I asked myself at the time, why didn't the Iraqi people appreciate their liberation from the sadistic rule of Saddam? Why were the people on the streets killing their own people in the attempts to kill our soldiers? In nearly four years alot of people have tried to answer that question, but I haven't heard a good reason yet. One of the soldiers theorized that it was because of being occupied, that it was "like living with your parents". If that is the case, then the children of Iraq have definately proven that they are a long ways off from being mature.

In the movie, the soldiers were repeatedly attacked by insurgents. The battles they fought were recreated in extremely graphic detail. They encountered the gamit of insurgent war-making during the course of their day. Suicide bombers, IED's, car bombs, pickup trucks filled with insurgents carrying black market M-60's, and hand held rocket launchers. One battle after another was depicted with the soldiers unable to call in support of any kind. They were elated to finally be told of they would be airlifted out, only to called upon to rescue the helicopter crew sent to save them. They found instead a broken up and burned out aircraft with the dead crewmen's bodies being savagely abused by Iraqi teenagers for sport and then by the insurgents themselves. They found themselves in yet another battle, to be rescued by MP's from the Illinois National Guard. Of course, creative licensing was at play during the making of the movie - the ending credits did not claim that this was an actual portrayal of the sequence of the events the soldiers encountered that day - it listed the dead (both of the 1st Calvary and of the Illinois National Guard MP unit, unfortunately now I can't recall whether any airmens deaths were listed) reported that day in Baghdad, alluding that those deaths were all tied together. Those deaths were tied together, if not in actual contact with each other, but that they died due to the insurgents that killed them.

In the final battle, the soldiers found themselves out of ammunition and forced to fight a hand-to-hand battle. This was my nightmare, the big one that came back over and over again during my son's tour. In my dream his basecamp was overrun by attackers dressed in hoods and robes wielding swords. The dream was filled with the color red, the moon was red as was the blood that covered everyone and everything in it. The movie portrayed the soldiers forced to fight with knives against machine gun carrying insurgents. Not exactly the same as my dream, but close enough.

During the time my son was in Iraq, the contractors were drug through the streets and hung from the bridge, Saddam was found hiding in the hole in the ground, beheadings became the story of the day, his munitions tent located in Camp Fallujuah (with my son and two others in it) came close to being hit by two rounds of rocket launched mortars Easter weekend, we lost a soldier in his battalion two days after Mother's Day to an IED, one of the units in his battalion was involved in a firefight, and both attempts to clear Fallujuah of insurgents occured. Over the year of 2004, I and so many others like me, shared nightmares. Unfortunately, those nightmares will not go away and are being revisited in various forms since that time daily by so many more as this war goes on.

In the news it is being suggested that our esteemed government will pull our soldiers out of Iraq, but when this will occur is anybodies guess at this time. I will never back down on my support of our soldiers, I will never write off anything they do as a lost cause because they didn't pick the fight they are in now that has evolved past 9-11 and WMD's. Our soldiers are (as the movie credits stated), "a national treasure" who find themselves duty bound to protect each other, while trying to save the children of Iraq from themselves. They are to be honored for their bravery and dedication to their convictions for a shared dream of peace and freedom on earth. It may involve a nightmare to get the job done, but that dream is well worth the price of the sleepless nights shared by many families that love and support them.

Share your posts here!

(All open trackback post links MUST be reciprocated by a link to this site within your original post - it's only good manners, ya know...)

posted by Is It Just Me? at 4:30 AM