Thursday, November 24, 2005
The Mundane and the Murderous
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell
Combat is a paradoxical dish whose recipe asks for generous dollops of the murderous garnished with a few dashes of the mundane. I was with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment from November 8th through the 19th for Operation Steel Curtain. These were 12 uninterrupted days and nights of combat against a devious and determined foe well apprised of our intention to do them harm. The local population was informed in no uncertain terms 24 hours ahead of time that the Marines would be attacking the following morning. There was no element of surprise. Civilians had to be taken into consideration and given the opportunity to exit from neighborhoods generously salted with foreign fighters; neighborhoods that would shortly boil over into lethal killing zones. Yet, even in the midst of the carnage Marines sandwiched everyday activities into the chaotic mix. Activities such as shaving, burning trash, sharpening knives, joking with buddies, reading paperbacks, playing chess with Iraqi soldiers, and writing letters served as simple punctuation marks between greater paragraphs of violence. These Marines even made time to celebrate the birthday of the Marine Corps, November 10th, with near-beer, steak and a slice of cake. Many greeted each other with a cheery "happy birthday Marine". An Associated Press writer, Jacob Silberberg, remarked to me that these young Marines,in the world of e-mail, must be the last people writing, reading, and longing for letters, and the only ones of their generation reading books for just for the sake of reading.
Today is Thanksgiving Day. I am thankful to be alive. I am thankful for my beautiful daughter, Ainsley, and a loving and supportive family headed by my gorgeous Mom. I am grateful to be a part of this noble cause, and to be surrounded by the finest young men and women I shall ever know......rough men all. Include them in your prayers and thanksgiving.