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December 6, 2004
The UncrediblesBy Greyhawk
Watched The Incredibles on DVD today. Great film, easily worth the five bucks I paid for it. The only drawback is this new technique American filmmakers have adopted where they make a movie, then videotape a showing of it in a theater and then release that version of it. Must be the new craze; every movie I've seen since arriving in Iraq has used the technique...
Yes, of course I'm kidding. I mean, there are no pirated movies in Iraq! There are no Tanks in Baghdad! The Americans are roasting in the fires of hell...!
Damn, now you won't know what to believe. I've gone and damaged my credibility; become uncredible, if you will...
Hey, is Washington Post Staff Writer Bradley Graham a reader here? Just curious, because he seems to have built this story around the theme Russ Vaughn used in filling Mrs. G's request for a Thanksgiving poem:
A Sharp Shift From Killing to Kindness
Here's an excerpt from Russ's version:
How can you warriors fight through the night,
Unlike other armies, you American G.I.'s
Other nations see this and are amazed
Wherever you serve, the world can see,
And as Americans know and Russ explains here, this is absolutely not a new phenomenon. Quoting Stephen Ambrose: "When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations."
The cliché American GI - alive and well, and hat tip to the Washington Post for not being afraid to say so.
Another cliché came to life for me today. I was talking to one of the troops who spends a considerable amount of time working with non-military/non-government Iraqis in a very public location. I was concerned for how he was eating, since he was far from a DFAC and local diets can sometimes produce unwanted reactions in tourists and other invaders - something we already call "Saddam's Revenge". This guy was a recent arrival, and I wanted to make sure he knew where to get MREs to take with him for lunch.
"No," he explained to my mild horror, "I've been eating with the Iraqis. Every day one of the guys brings the food for everyone. A different guy every day. Then we all eat lunch together." He went on to explain he ate only fully cooked foods, avoiding fresh raw vegetables that might have been washed in local water and anything he couldn't readily identify.
"So how do they like having you as an extra mouth to feed?" I asked.
"They love it. Man, being with those guys has completely changed my view of everything we're doing here."
"They just love us so much. They're so thankful we're here..."
I didn't ask for clarification of the "changed my view" remark, just prompted him for more. "Really?"
"Yea, they used to live in constant fear that they might screw up and end up dead for it. Now they know it's still dangerous but they have hope for the future. No, they think we're great. They're glad we're here."
Damn, from time to time you read about Iraqis expressing appreciation for us, but every time you actually hear it from yet another person you get a great feeling, followed shortly after by a question of "why the hell doesn't this sort of story get told more often in the press back home?!? Now here's an American who to some degree has had his views on the war altered by Iraqis! The Iraqis who are feeding him! A guy who even though he's military has until now only had press reports of the war to help him form an opinion.
And yes, I'm going to make sure the local chapter of the Michael Moore fan Club gets to hear from this guy first hand.
So take heart, America, you have the incredibles; the Washington Post is starting to read like Mudville, and average Iraqis are converting lukewarm Americans to enthusiastic supporters of their struggle for freedom. Maybe soon letters to the editor like this one in the Washington Times (from an individual I do not know) will become unnecessary:
As a soldier on the ground in Baghdad, I greatly appreciated Helle Dale's column ("Biased coverage in Iraq," Wednesday, Op-Ed). As sad as I am to say it, the media's bias here is willful. I'm here at what used to be Saddam Hussein's presidential palace, now the U.S. Embassy in the green zone.
The word is getting out. We're winning. You can't hide that fact forever.
Not if you care about damaging your credibility.
Posted by Greyhawk / December 6, 2004 2:01 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com