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March 19, 2006
Three Years, 100 VoicesBy Greyhawk
The invasion -- three years ago today -- was a blur, pulsing with excitement and wired on Adderall. Invasion vets remembered villages of blank-faced Iraqis lining the roads as the armor sped past, and ranks of empty Iraqi tanks bombed out in the desert, and busloads of men in civilian clothes suddenly opening fire, and a sandstorm so thick they could hardly see their hands in front of their faces.That's from this page one Washington Post story:
Over the past year, The Washington Post conducted in-depth interviews with 100 of the more than 500,000 veterans of the war. They included men and women, officers and enlisted, active-duty and reserves, combat and support troops. The questions were open-ended. The intent was to hear from them, in their own words, what the experience was like.You would need a much larger space to capture the totality of the experience, but this is a fine glimpse.
And let's not forget these voices:
Mom & Dad,Matine Captain Ryan Beaupre, 30, of Bloomington, Ill., was killed March 20 2003 in a helicopter crash in Kuwait.
And this is from Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Williams' final letter home:
...I know I am here to do a job that not everyone can handle or they just choose not to do. I can't help but wonder what God has in store for me and for us. God knows I live to love and would die to give just one person a chance for life in a peaceful world. My weakness in life just might be my willingness to sacrifice my life for the good of this world we live in.I am not trying to make you worry about me, but only to know that I am here because I want to be here and that I believe God has given me the chance to help the people who have helped me, and also the people I have not even met yet. I love you Heather, and I want to spend my life with you, but God has called me to do this first. There is a phrase the Marine Corps adopted, it is "Semper Fi." It means "Always Faithful." To God, my country, my family I will always be faithful. You are now part of my family. When all of this is over, God will have revealed his plan for me being here ..... For now, I belong to my country, when I come back, I am yours.And Marine Sgt. Michael E. Bitz wrote:
Dear Mom:Bitz, 31, of Ventura, Calif., and Williams, 31, of Yuma, Ariz., were killed March 23, 2003 in Nasiriyah by Iraqi soldiers who pretended to surrender, then opened fire when Marines approached.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 19, 2006 12:14 PM | Permalink
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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.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
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