Friday, June 16, 2006

A mom's motivation

Yesterday, an e-friend asked me what my connection was to Haditha. He wrote this after I had sent him a link to SpiritBuilders. I guess the answer to his question is "none."

Except for this:

When the Abu Ghraib photos hit the press in April 2004 and then the media went wild with coverage through May (and the months following) my son was early into his service as a prison guard at Camp Bucca in Iraq. Unless you are the parent of a soldier, I don't know if you can imagine what it was like to see those photos on the front pages of the newspapers day after day.

My first response was to write up an email that shone a light on the good things that the soldiers were doing. I then took that email and I forwarded it to everybody who was on the distribution lists of folks who would send me jokes or profound thoughts they had found on the internet. Basically, I just hit "reply to all" to the emails I received and then sent my own email to my friends and their friends. This is an excellent way to reduce the number of distribution lists on which you are included.

Since then, I've written to newspapers, and television networks. I've called ombudsmen and quietly spoken with reporters. And I've written emails - lots of them.

When the Haditha story started picking up steam, I started writing my e-friends one by one and asking them to keep their reporting and commenting in context of the hundreds of thousands of troops who quietly and honorably do their jobs.

One journalist with whom I exchange cordial emails wrote back to me saying that the chips would have to fall where they may. Here is an excerpt from my note back to him:

I thought a lot about your words, especially these: "this is one (like Abu Ghraib) where the chips have to fall where they may." I don't know how to say this gently, [name], but that rings somewhat cold with me. With Abu Ghraib, "the chips" not only fell on the soldiers who are pictured in those photos from November 8, 2003 at Abu Ghraib prison, General Karpinski, and to some extent others in the chain of command. "The chips" were slung at President Bush and SecDef Rumsfeld, and ended up hitting my son and countless other prison guards who were jerked around by a chain of command that overreacted to the politics and the media hyperventilation. "Abu Ghraib!" was one twelve hour shift carried out by seven stupid soldiers in an environment that was made worse by the missteps of Gen. Geoffery Miller. In the two years since "Abu Ghraib!" came to the nation's consciousness, it has received now an incalculable number of references - magnifying it to a factor of thousands beyond the seriousness of the acts on that night.

Haditha appears to have been bad. And as you know, bad things happen in war. We have sent human beings to war, not angels. We had a choice when facing the terrorists - fight an imperfect war or do nothing. It is still my belief that it was better to fight an imperfect war than to do nothing.

My connection to Haditha is simply not wanting any other soldiers and their families to have to go through the aftermath of media hyperventilation over an incident that is isolated and not even completely investigated.

My usual method of communication was inefficient.

So, I started a blog.

1 comment:

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