Saturday, January 07, 2006

Words of family, words of war

There's no question that war is hell. Please don't think I'm glamorizing it by writing this, but sustained military conflict seems to bring out the best in some people. Journalistically, great writing often emerges from the throes of military conflict.

To wit, the Washington Post article in tomorrow's edition, When Mom Is Over There. Subtitled, "A Family Learns to Stay the Course and Prays for a Safe Return From Iraq," the piece is a first-person perspective of the sister of a soldier now serving in theatre. Anne Hull is a Washington Post staff writer who has gone to Florida to help her younger brother with his two kids while his wife/their Mom is at war.

This article has accomplished two things:
  1. I am now a huge fan of Anne Hull, and have added her to my watchlist of notable writers.
  2. It has reminded us that ordinary folks are paying the price for the decisions of leadership. It's something I doubt much occurs to the Bushies and Rummies of the world.
Your turn: What's the first thing you feel as you finish reading this piece? Do you know of any other examples - writers, articles, publications, whatever - that reflect similar themes?

One last thing: I periodically post comments on notable coverage of the Iraq war. Here's one from October dealing with one soldier's ultimate sacrifice.

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46 comments:

Laura GF said...

Hello, Michele sent me! I agree that hard times like these can bring out the best in some people. It's wonderful to see, but so unfortunate that this situation is the result of other factors bringing out the worst in other people.

Sandy said...

I always enjoy writers that can paint pictures with words. Thanks for the link to this gifted wordsmith.

Popping in through Michele's tonight.

srp said...

Here from Michele's. I didn't want you to feel left out. Read about your vacation posting and no I don't think you're being paranoid about the "empty house" thing. Isn't that why the papers post wedding pictures and articles a month or so after the actual wedding?

utenzi said...

"Dammit, Ang," Jim says, "I'm here with them 24-7 and you're in the peace and quiet."

I guess every house-husband feels that way from time to time.

While no person can be totally safe in Iraq right now, Jim's wife, being in air trafffic control, has a better chance than infantry do. It must still be very scary for her family.

I've been through her hometown of Gaffney SC many times. In fact I even mentioned the town due to their famous landmark a few months back, Carmi.

Visiting from Michele's for the second time tonight...

kontan said...

thanks for the link...many times people forget that those stationed overseas have family here that is struggling to meet day to day needs while waiting for the return of their loved one.

Shelli said...

Sad, I feel sad. I don't know what the answer is to this war, but this article is not about that. It is about two little girls and their father who have to live life right now without their mother and wife. To me that is sad.

Backfire aka Plucky said...

Writing that provokes such emotion.

Thank you for the link. This article is what thousands of us are living right now. More people need to see it to remind them that a war is not just an 'issue'. It's made up of people and stories and families and lives. I hope you don't mind if I add this to my own blog.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

In a war, everybody is a loser.

Michele sent me here.

kenju said...

Carmi, I will come back later and read that article (have to go to church now). My first thought is that I cannot imagine why any woman wants to go to war, especially if she has children.

Michele sent me, but you know I come on my own.

the frog princess said...

I know what you mean about great journalistic writing emerging "in the throes of military conflict." Recently I came across this article, even though I'm on the opposite side of the continent. It's beautiful; you should check it out!

Oh, and I'm here via the M&G :) Thanks!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Thanks for all you write about Carmi..
You are such a thoughtful and dear man...and also you have strong convictions and are not afraid to write about anything and Everything!

Here from Michele this morning!

Nikki-ann said...

Emotion provokes writing and writing provokes emotion.

Michele sent me :)

Beanhead said...

wow Carmi First I have tears streaming down my face not sure if it because I am a mom or if it is because I am proud of Angela and her family. Anyways great article thanks for sharing.

kristal said...

Here via Michele.

The first thing that I thought was that I was glad to run across your blog again. I had read a few entries a long time ago and didn't bookmark you. Then I couldn't seem to find my way back.

la la la I can't hear you said...

Hi Carmi, Michele sent me today. Thanks for the link, that was a great piece. It reminded me of the kind of writing I love and see a lot in The Sun magazine, which tends to combine the personal and political in a way you usually don't see in Newspapers.

Zephra said...

Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot coming from you.

After reading that article, I have a profound sense of sadness. Life is so unfair. My neighbor's daughter was a gunner for a black hawk copters in Iraq. She came home early, lucky to be alive, after a crash. Not fair at all. I don't know how these families left behind make it. It seems the govt. does not give enough support to them. Bless them for making a sacrifice that I am not willing to make.

sophie said...

Making this war personal is very important. Each soldier has a story--of a family and friends who are marking time waiting for his or here return. Thanks for the link. here from Michele.

Nader said...

@ Carmi

When I started to read your link I said shoot, here we go again; Cinderella demagoguery in Alice wonderland.

Look, I am not going to go about American war sentiments today because if it was not for the USA losing the war your Blog probably would have been rattling about a nice trip to the Niagara Water Falls. However, I’d like to draw a parallel line ‘of some sort’ and say when the slaves where first brought into the ‘new’ world they did not sign a contract with their employers to earn a lump sum minus taxes. They were dragged like animals and worked in faraway land to help the power elite flourish.

The mother you talk about is under a contract to work for the US forces (Power Elite) – which happens to be the most horrific imperialistic army mankind has ever known, and when she decided to join-in she meant WAR.

If you ask me then I think she should truncate her contract and redeem herself by getting a job at some civilian firm where she really can help her fellow citizens. And, also, be with her poor husband and her precious children.

Joy said...

Intriguing post. Thanks for the link. I'm glad Michele sent me.

Plumkrazzee said...

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. Gives me pause to think.

ribbiticus said...

hi carmi! dropped by today via michele.

thank you so much for sharing that. the first emotion that hit me while reading the article was sadness. i feel sad that a family is being separated, their lives suspended until this war ends. i also felt admiration and pride at the strength and composure of these brave soldiers and their families. our prayers should go out to them, that they may all return safely to be embraced by the ones they love once again.

Carmi said...

Nader: Um, OK. I'll assume that things like family and community don't rank as high on your personal priority meter as, say, political vitriol.

The fake return URL also speaks volumes about your desire for a free and open exchange.

I hope you're happier in real life that you come off in this hit-and-run comment. I'm sure you'll never read this anyway, but everyone else who visits here will get a chuckle out of you anyway.

Anonymous said...

About to read the article... Michele sent me today! :)
Chana
www.bunnyburrow.com

Juggling Mother said...

I guess the emotion I feel is pity. It's a shame this is happening, from everyone's point of view.

However, although it was well written, it did not make me feel sad for that particular family. Anyone who joins the armed forces has to expect that they will be sent into a war-zone. It's they're paid for. It's the main point of their job.

here from micheles this evening

Nader said...

@ Carmi
This is somewhat played well. I guess if it weren’t for the ‘political vitriol’ you have ass-u-me-d I was inclined to, then perhaps I would have failed to see you fit as a journalist who is trying hard to top a rating only second to Al Jazeera!

I may say I’m beginning to feel less surprised when you leisurely refer to scuttled war and destruction as family and community.

I see that you’re a Canadian; and just last week the media (people like you) were unveiling classified material that implicitly perpetrating a plan for the USA to have invaded and annexed your country 70 years ago! I guess if you were lucky enough you could be have been fabricating stories for the neocons at staggering salaries. And this trust me is not only chuckling; it is hilariously sad.

Btw. I see you monitor views before having them published. I really hope this snoop-gate did not get as far as Canada, because I do admire your country.

Kat said...

That was a really amazing article, so thanks so much for the link. The Washington Post has done a really great job of humanizing the war. I read a similar article in the Post recently, if only I could remember when, or what it was called!

Backfire aka Plucky said...

To Mrs. Aginoth: In all respect, I don't think the article was intended to get sympathy for the subject family. I think that the writer was using a specific story to remind us that the military is made up of people like you and me. Just my opinion.

Carmi said...

Nader: lighten up, dude. Your perspective suggests you spend way too much time thinking about this and nowhere near enough time enjoying the planet.

Go for a walk. Meet someone. Enjoy yourself. Then perhaps you'll have reason to smile.

BlondGirl said...

Michele sent me. Thanks for the link to the story about Angela's family. They are the real heroes in all of this.

Dave said...

My thoughts are in and around the area of:-
How did so many people vote for Bush, when he is so obviously certifiable?
Why do Americans have this overly accentuated patriotism that seems to blind them to the views of the rest of the world.
If you are in the forces expect to be in a war zone.

Plain Jane said...

Carmi - thanks for sharing this story.

Personally, having a brother over there, I try not to read these sorts of articles anymore. It doesn't make me feel any better about him being gone. It doesn't make me feel worse either.

I'm beyond it... and just struggling with having the patience of simply enduring what this country has been coerced into supporting.

As an aside: I applaud your posting Nader's comments despite ... their content.

Mitey Mite said...

Wow, that is some article. "If you read this letter carefully, you might hear my voice."

Back in the VietNam days we said, War is harmful to children and other living things.

Here via Michele today. I will link you now so I can read your blog more often, not just when I stumble across you.

Chele In {dot} LA said...

Wow great link.thank you for it.
And btw the other Michele sent me.

Dak-Ind said...

greetings to you from michele!

right now is such a hard time for us to discuss the war, with the word several now to be put before the bit about friends we have lost.

my husband has survivor guilt that just strangles me every time another of his friends dies, or a member of his platoon is killed, or the younger brother of a friend.

i just cant get excited about a persons writing improving at the expense of the lives of our friends and family.

but as usual, i do enjoy visiting you Carmi, and i hope you dont mind that this time i just have to disagree.

vicki said...

Lucky me to come here by way of Michelle's. My brother-in-law is serving in Iraq and one of the few good things about this was when the blog community came together and sent over 300 DVDs and CDs to his unit for their audio/video library. Great post, Carmi- thanks!

Kevin said...

I think it was Hawkeye Pierce (dressed in his Alan Alda costume) who said, (paraphrase mode on) "war is war and hell is hell, but war is worse because there are no innocent bystanders in hell."

On that note, all I can say is "peace, all."

Jamie said...

Carmi, first I want to say how impressed I am with the way you deal with people. Your a cool guy.

Second, one of the saddest parts of this war is that we sent many National Guard members. People who signed up for every other weekend. People who signed up to help in disasters like Katrina. People who NEVER expected to get sent to WAR on another CONTINENT for YEARS at a time. I think a lot of people forget that. But there are so many of these stories.

One of my good friends has been home with her three children for a over a year now. She knows her husband will be coming back soon, but she has no clue when it will be. Just that he has served the time he was told to.

Luckily, whether people agree with the war or dissagree, they come together. They still support the families left home. They still support the soldiers. And they still hope for a resolution.

margalit said...

This article makes me so angry. Taking a parent away from their children and putting them into harms way for what? So that Rumsfield/Bush/Delay/Cheney can get richer off their oil profits and halliburton stock? It's sickening.

My daughter has a friend in school whose mom is in Iraq. The dad is deceased, mom is single, now 5 kids live with grandma in a 1 bedroom apartment. The poor kid comes over for a visit and stays for a couple of nights just to sleep in quiet. It makes me furious. And Bush's slutty daughters? Where are they?

the frog princess said...

hello again from Michele's! I hope you had fun in Florida!

Lazy Daisy said...

Wow, thanks for the link. I think I'm a fan now too. Here from Michele's. Thanks for visiting my site and the nice comment about my mom.

Paul said...

I have never seen so many comments on one post. Thanks for inspiring people to think and respond to situations in the world.

Deana said...

When I read that I got the same chill I guess you would say of compassion or fear I always get for those having to go fight. Why should a mother have to leave her home to go fight in Iraq? Why should a young father? I hate this war, I detest Bush. I wish all our men and women could come home. This war was a mistake. Everytime I hear of another person dying from our community over there or see some nice family on tv grieving over their loved ones it infuriates me. But I always, always admire the sense of patriotism these people show.

Minerva said...

War is awful isn't it? So many different lives getting put on the line for principles..*sigh*

Thanks for introducing such an amazing writer to me...

Minerva

Minerva said...

Rats..forgot to say that Michele sent me...

Willa said...

I'm delighted to have discovered your blog--my first venture into one, if you can believe it!--and to discover a gifted writer and photographer. I'm a new fan! And a new fan, too of Anne Hull, whose piece I read in Sunday's Style section. I took that section of The Post with me to read during breaks in Sunday's NFL wild card game between Carolina and the Giants (a great game, especially if one was rooting against the Giants!). Normally, my attention to the printed page would've been scant, as the game had my concentration between commercials! But from its opening words to the end, Anne Hull's piece held me spellbound. It was beautifully written, sensitive, and restrained. She could have easily strayed into several alleys that would have compromised the integrity and purity of that piece, but she didn't. Her words and the images and thoughts thus evoked have endured through the night and into today. How rare is such writing?! I came online to look up the article, and to write to its author, and found you. I shall now go back to finding an email address for Ms. Hull. Thank you for the very worthwhile distraction! Willa

Karen said...

Carmi, I agree. The Anne Hull piece was phenomenal. What's most astounding is that this is just one family. I can't even imagine the tens of thousands of other families living out this drama and challenge on a daily basis. Wow. Thanks for referring me to the article.

Hope all is well.