Another life as a soldier

By Richard Magda
April 10, 2003

Jamie Knobler

Not having direct contact with any soldiers in Iraq, all I can do to understand life in the gloomy eyes of war is browse Internet photo galleries, watch the news and read war stories. I fully support the troops. I cannot, however, fully understand their experience. What I know is what news services tell me and what I deduce from that.

Upon safe return, a soldier will walk up to his loving parents, hug them and say, “It’s great to be home.” And it will be great. A week before that moment, the soldier had to fear for life – could an Iraqi soldier be just ahead, masked by the wind-blown sand? Is my skin covered and safe from a mismissile loaded with VX? If I’m captured, will I feel freedom again?

Try as I do, it is impossible for me to fathom the life of a 21-year-old American soldier in Iraq. Now that coalition forces have “effectively isolated” Baghdad, the feeling of power must be at a high. But until the soldiers are home, safe and sound, anything can happen. If I know one thing about our young soldiers in Iraq, it is that they understand that the worst is still possible no matter how successful the performance has been.

People our age form the world’s strongest military force that has completed the bulk of its part in less than a month. In that time, I went to most of my classes, had a few laughs, slept in a few hours longer and enjoyed my freedom, as usual, without thinking about it – because of them.

We, as students, are a necessary ingredient in winning this war too. We do not wake up to anti-aircraft fire from the opposition, but we do awake to a changing world that we are being taught to understand and improve. It will be our generation, workers, soldiers and students alike, that win this war; that make this world a better place.

I still beg my father to flip through his album of personal photographs from the Vietnam War. He was a Marine, and he tells a good story. When I see photographs of my father crouched with an .35-caliber machine gun in his grasp, I am humbled by his experiences. He spent his 21st birthday filling sandbags in expectation of a major attack. I played darts and drank expensive beer with hometown friends on my 21st birthday.

We have watched this war on television, hearing the stories as told by embedded journalists. But our soldiers in Iraq will come home with the real stories. Listening to them, we will be humbled, we will come closer to understanding and we will do our part better because of them

posted by Jamie Knobler

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Richard Magda

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