December 17, 2004

FRIENDLY

Last week, Annika -- a cool blogger whose themes include poetry and ripping on Britney Spears -- interviewed me via instant messenger. She just tidied up the conversation and posted it on her blog. I think I sound like a huge tool, but I bet that's pretty representative of my real personality: I probably sound like that to everyone. Anyway, if you're interested in hearing me yabber for an hour, check out Chicks Dig Tanks over at Annika's.

Annika and I touched briefly on Pat Tillman, a segment I would like to expand. I seriously didn't hear about the friendly fire until last week. I think the phrase "friendly fire" is is one of the worst things I can think of. I'd rather pretend it doesn't exist, but Tillman's death forced me to imagine the possibility.

2Slick wrote a long and detailed post on the anger the Tillman family feels, the "Army cover-up", and his thoughts on the matter. If you're interested at all in the subject, I highly recommend reading it. I think 2Slick summed up the crux of the controversy, at least for me:

There's a reason why the men involved refused to talk about the incident with the WaPo reporter. It makes them sick. Every single day. It's the first thing they think about when they wake up in the morning, and it's the last thing they think about when they go to bed at night. [...] But no amount of punishment could ever compare to the stomach-grinding guilt that these officers and soldiers will live with every single day of their lives. Please forgive the Army officials for not wanting to string these people up and administer public floggings.

Every now and then, I offer the same generic, sing-songy disclaimer: I have never been in the Army, I speak as a civilian, 75% of what I know comes from my husband, the other 25% comes from movies, etc, etc, etc. That said, I would like to return to the movie Courage Under Fire, which I mentioned twice was the reason I married my husband. I've been told that this movie is pretty emotionally accurate, and when I read 2Slick's post, I kept thinking about Denzel's character. He tortures himself throughout the whole movie for the friendly fire death he caused. In the end, the soldier's family says it's easy to forgive him, but now he has to learn to forgive himself.

One night right after CPT Sims was killed, I had a dream I was a soldier clearing buildings in Iraq. I shot someone who came rushing in the door and then realized he was an American. I woke up with the worst feeling imaginable, and that was just a dream. The guilt I felt based on a dream was so horrible that I can't begin to imagine the guilt of reality.

When your husband is deployed, you can't help but mentally plan for tragedy. I don't know if anything we mentally plan would actually hold up to reality, but we unconsciously work our way through various scenarios so that they're not uncharted territory should they ever come up. Last Wednesday I had to work my way through a mental friendly fire death. That was harder than anything I've imagined so far. But I know that it wouldn't be nearly as hard for me as it would be for the soldier who fired the round. That's how you would forgive something like that.

2Slick is right: there are only victims in a friendly fire, not villains. Is that the way anyone wants their soldier to go out? Hell, no. Is that the way Pat Tillman should've gone out? Not a chance. But I think I can honestly say that I would have an easier time dealing with being the family member than with being the soldier who shot America's hero.

Posted by: Sarah at 02:54 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 That's good stuff. Do you read Sassoon? I'd advise against it. There's more truth there than most can stand, but "gallant lies" are our Western Kabuki. http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/7224/ It would be hard to lose a son in any way, but in the words of "The Great Santini", "It beats dieing of the piles". One of the unspoken lessons of the recent Presidential election was the nebulous nature of heroism. Kerry who had a chestful of bullshit that he'd mailed in his boxtops for, and the legion of mostly ignored men who'd endured so much more, but would not endure his hypocrisy. Go take a look at the swiftboat vets commercials on their site, particularly the last one. When I think of heroes, I think of "Mr. Roberts" and the scene where he's listening to Roosevelt's VE speech on the 1MC, and he decides to throw the palm tree overboard, and then his subsequent last letter to Ensign Pulver, where he observed that he'd been in the company of brave men "who sailed from tedium to monotony with occasional side-trips to boredom". Tillman was heroic. The tragedy of his death is magnified by the fact that it came by the hands of heroes. "Only a beauty, only a power, sad in the fruit, but bright in the flower, endlessly erring for it's hour".

Posted by: Casca at December 17, 2004 01:41 PM (K4X2y)

2 Good interview... and you got to mention Prufrock again! LOL

Posted by: CavalierX at December 17, 2004 08:20 PM (sA6XT)

3 I'm honored at the mention of my name. As to Casca's Santini quote--my father was a Santini, and I've actually met the real one!

Posted by: Mike at December 17, 2004 08:37 PM (b7AUG)

4 ""Sarah: I guess what I took from the book was that people get so caught up in what they think is right or what they're doing at the moment that they forget there are other ways of doing things. Mike came along and taught them to understand things and not just accept what they'd been told was true"" I think that is one of the best 'short' (ie shorter then the book) descriptions of Mike that I've ever read.... It also accounts for why so many were against him. My personal favorites were Red Planet (2nd grade), Starship Troopers (read at various ages and getting something different every few years), and To Sail Beyond the Sunset (I do wish he had been able to do one final book to complete things but.. ah well) Did you ever read the uncut version of stranger? Oddly.. without really looking I didn't see much difference. Anyway Thanks for your insites.. its cause of folk like you, Smash, and Blackfive that I started to go beyond the CNN headlines...

Posted by: LarryConley at December 19, 2004 04:32 AM (y5h4n)

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