Comments and Conclusion

April 14, 2009 at 6:57 pm (1)

My Full List Of Responses

Tom M










I personally still don’t enjoy blogging at all.  Probably after this, I won’t ever do it again unless I have to.   However, because of this experience, I was able to read other people’s thoughts about events that have been happening in the news related to war/war times.  What made that enjoyable, at least, was the fact they were all attached to our class readings in some manner.  That is what was fun about it; taking a text and seeing how people could apply the text to an event in the public eye.  From this, I think I can actually speak for a lot of people in class when I say it made us more aware of how critically we can regard…or disregard for that matter…information presented before us.

Furthermore, I will say that the texts we have read…well Beah, O’Brien, and Spiegelman are for the win.  I think out of any of the other readings, these are the ones that when I blogged, I took pride in trying to relate them to current events.  Those stories were so compelling that I wanted to try and do them justice.

Finally, the experiences in class where great.  I am glad that I did enroll in this class even though it was a last minute desperation so I could graduate.  A lot of the conversations that we had in class, I actually went home and told my girlfriend about them.  On top of that, she willingly read Maus and is working on The Things They Carried.  She even read Maus II and plans on reading A long way gone.


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Rally in Iraq

April 14, 2009 at 3:41 pm (1)

I keep on hearing things like if the United States pulls out of Iraq to fast or simply does leave that everything will go down the tubes. My feelings about a lot of things in this world and my life are let the chips fall where they may. On that note, I think it is time to introduce the article entitled Tens of thousands of Iraqis rally against U.S.. This article touches on the six year anniversary of the ousting of Hussein and how Iraqi citizens want the withdrawal of troops. From the demonstrators, chants were heard such as

“No, no to America. No, no to arrogance.”

Furthermore, there was an overall tone from speakers which insisted that they wanted Obama to follow through with his end of the deal and “keep his promise to the world”.

However, as much as this seems to be on Obama keeping promises, a fair deal needs to be placed around unity. Rally speakers said that in order for Iraq to be better off, there needs to be “Iraqi unity”. This would mean that Sunnis and Shiites would have to place differences aside to create this bond. Perhaps this is a possibility. Even though Hameed al Hayis has created a political party that is majority Sunni and wants Shiites to resign due to violent outbreaks, which make them look as being unqualified. Hameed al Hayis stated that

”Our Sadrist brothers have a clear vision. We appreciate that they don’t compromise on that. They don’t want an occupation on their land.”

This leads, perhaps, to some sort of an alliance between the two parties, which may be what is needed to fully create Iraqi unity and lead to safe, swift withdrawals from Iraq.

This rally against the United States reminds me of A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah. In the book, Beah wants the RUF to leave and let the people and the villages to be happy and safe again. The RUF takes practically everything from these villagers; food, ammo, family, friends, the village, even life. In the article there was mention how al Hayis help launch the Sons of Iraq, a group of militiamen. This made me think of all the various groups the Beah talks about; RSLMF, AFRC, ECOMOG. It also made me think about how he was in Freetown and Kabbah was overthrown by AFRC to be replaced by Johnny Paul Koroma. There is nothing but constant coups happening; the military keeps trying to overthrow the president. Like in the timeline at the end of the book, the British start to withdraw troops that are training the Sierra Leonean Army. It isn’t until they can get their selves strong and united before their can be complete independence.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis rally against U.S. –> CORINNE REILLY AND SAHAR ISSA

A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah

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Town hall with Obama

April 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm (1)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most arrogant country of them all? It couldn’t be the United States now could it? As a matter of fact it could. In the article President Obama Says America Has Shown ‘Arrogance’, there are statements that show how our weakening ties with Europe may be due to an arrogance. At a town hall meeting, Obama states that

“In recent years, we’ve allowed our alliance to drift…. [However], there have been times where America’s shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive….. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans chose to blame America for much of what’s bad…. [Furthermore] America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes…”

Over the complete colonization of the United States, I can see arrogance among the people that inhabit the land. Ironically enough most of the immigrants who came to America can be considered from Europe; however that is beside the point. When colonization first happened, Native Americans were forced to give up land. Even in terms of how the land was treated…the industrial revolution. Then there are all the wars that America has been in where being a powerhouse badass was super important.

That little blip up there wasn’t fully the article; there were other sections that I wanted to get to. Since this was a town hall meeting where people asked President Obama questions, this article highlighted questions about terrorism, U.S. troops, and the first puppy. When addressing global terrorism, Obama said that

“… al Qaeda is still a threat and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president suddenly everything’s going to be OK”

In addition to his feeling on global terror, he is sending 4,000 more troops into Afghanistan to help train the Afghan nation army. Obama feels that those additional 4,000 plus the 17,000 over there right now

“…will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our troops home”

Lastly even though at the time of this article, Obama hadn’t announced the addition of a puppy to the White House, we now know that there is a puppy there, a Portuguese water dog named Bo to be exact. The puppy came as a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy.

Overall, in this article, there were a few things that reminded me of A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah. When I read about the 4,000 additional troops going over to Afghanistan, it made me think of the training of the boy soldiers to stop the RUF. Obama felt that it would “…prepare Afghans to take responsibility…” where in the book, all those boys were taking responsibility for the security of their country. By training, raiding, taking, and killing, these boys were trying to avenge their families as well as their country. Also, when I read about the idea of arrogance, I though of how arrogant the soldiers were in Sierra Leone. Beah talked about in his memoir how he would go and watch war movies, do a lot of drugs, then go out and raid rebel camps. Afterwards, there would be high-fives and thoughts of how well the killed people. Also it didn’t matter if they killed civilians. The more hard-core of a soldier you were, the more respect that was received, which leads to more arrogance.

Finally the last thing I want to go and draw a connection to is the Obamas and their puppy. To me, a puppy signifies all that is good about childhood. Obama has two little girls, so it is rather fitting they have a dog. The connection here is that Ishmael, even though he is a kid, never was able to really have a childhood. As being a boy in the midst of a civil war, he witnessed innocents being destroyed. Not only did he see people die before him, but he killed people before him. He lost his whole family and only has brief little snippets of memories. He never got to have his puppy and experience what it was like to be a kid.

President Obama Says America Has Shown ‘Arrogance’ –> JAKE TAPPER and KAREN TRAVERS

A long way gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah

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Polling For Answers

April 14, 2009 at 2:38 am (1)

I thought this would be an interesting idea to go and focus on; a current survey of how people feel the war has gone. FOX News used the polling system of phone conversation which involved 900 voters asking 57 different questions. Here is the whole list of questions and responses, but I want to focus on a couple in general that I found to be rather interesting.

# 13: Thinking about the last few months, which one of the following is closer to how you feel?

Scale: 1. The country is on a continuous decline 2. The country is on its way up and out of problems 3. (Neither) 4. (Don’t know)

The time period is from March 1st – April 9th

Sole focus is overall based on responses from Dems, Repubs, and Indpend. 56% feel the country is declining and 32% feel the country is on its way up.

My two cents: I personally would love to be optimistic that the way the war in Iraq, the bail outs, Obama traveling around …etc is all helping out the U.S., but I am kind of unsure now. It seems like a lot of moneys are being reallocated, but if that isn’t done, how is the economy supposed to be jump started? However, the only way to go is up once you’re at rock bottom.

#51: Do you think the United States is safer today under the Obama administration or was it safer under the Bush administration

The time period is from March 1st – April 9th

Sole focus is overall based on responses from Dems, Repubs, and Indpend. 36% feel safer today under Obama, 31% feel was safer under Bush, and 25% feel there is no difference in safety.

My two cents: I don’t know if I feel more or less safe. However, I do think that since we have a president in office that has children, we seem to be more family oriented. Also, since we do have a African American president, maybe it shows we don’t necessary care about colors of skin.

#52: Under the Obama administration, do you think the United States will continue fighting the global war against terrorism, or now?

The time period is from March 1st – April 9th

Sole focus is overall based on responses from Dems, Repubs, and Indpend. 68% say yes while 27% say no.

My two cents: I believe that we should fight where we have to and no other place. America doesn’t need to stick its huge nose into other peoples’ affairs all the time. We need to focus our efforts at home versus on the road.

#53: Which of the following descriptions do you think better describes the threat from terrorist attacks – the word “terrorism” or the phrase “man-caused disasters”?

The time period is from March 1st – April 9th

Sole focus is overall based on responses from Dems, Repubs, and Indpend. 75% feel terrorism best describes the threat while 14% believe that man-caused disasters best describes the threat.

My two cents: I know that terrorism is the best possible way to describe acts of terror against other people. However, as much as I do think that “terrorism” should stay as the main term, but eliminating it, I think that we are now trying to put an emphasis in the idea that perhaps terrorism isn’t as great as a threat as it was eight years ago.

After seeing these 4 questions, it makes me think about the movie we watched in class with Tom Cruise in it called Born on the 4th of July. In Born on the 4th of July, Cruise’s character Ron Kovic decided that it would be in his best interest if he goes to fight over in Vietnam. He fights bravely over there but ultimately get shot leaving him paralyzed. At one point in the movie, when he gets home after being in a veteran hospital, all the neighbors come around to see his arrival. All they can say to him (while being in a wheelchair) is “you look good”. When I look at those questions and the hollow lies that they feed Kovic, I wonder how these questions would have been answered back then. Since it was more of a conflict versus a war and there was great backlash toward Johnson and his choices toward stopping communist; this is much like the war on terror, stopping terrorist, and going to war with Iraq. Furthermore, I almost wonder how people would answer these same questions only in terms to Vietnam.

FOX News Poll: Americans See Mostly Smooth Transition in War on Terror –> From

Born on the 4th of July

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After 18 Years, We Can Finally See the Dead

April 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm (1)

This post is almost a follow up on one I composed a few months ago. It may be the same information; however it is a great article to help us think about Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried.

On April 5, 2008, the press was allowed the coverage of U.S. soldiers arriving back in the states. However, the arrival was in the form of coffins. This is the first time in 18 years that the AP was allowed to take photographs of the fallen. This ban, which was ‘relaxed’ by President Obama, allows the families of the fallen to have a choice whether or not their brave husbands, wives, sons, or daughters may be filmed or photographed (Reuters).

Reuters writes that:

“The ban was imposed in 1991 during the first Gulf War with some exceptions, including the return of Navy seamen killed during the attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in October 2000 that killed 17”

This was during the time of the presidency of George Bush Sr. His son, George W. Bush followed through with the ban that his father implemented by

“…imposed a stricter ban during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, sparking criticism that the federal government was hiding the human cost of its military operations”

Personally, I think it is great that the families of the fallen have a choice whether or not photos can be taken. This works as a form of coping for Americans as well as the family. As much as I like to be optimistic about things, I do believe that the government does keep quiet the cost of human lives that are lost in war. Soldiers need recognition regardless if they are coming home to see their families alive or (may they rest in peace) in a coffin proudly displaying the flag of the country they so diligently and proudly fought for.

In O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried, there are various scenes in which members of the platoon that meet a most unfortunate fate. We learn how poor Curt Lemon steps on a detonator and dies a most tragic death. Also there is Ted Lavender who met the make; zapped while zipping (17). And we think of Kiowa…can we really pin point what happened to Kiowa. There is a flashlight blink and the motors drop. Regardless of whose fault it was or if he was still alive, Kiowa died in the shit field.

Upon reading about each death and how the chopper would come and pick up the bodies of the fallen, I started looking on Google for images of Vietnam soldier coffins. I couldn’t find any images, so I am led to believe that these men were placed in coffins and sent home with no one really knowing except the families. Likewise, I think that showing the coffins of the dead during the Vietnam War would have outraged protesters even more; however on the same aspect it would have shown America that many men are losing their lives making others proud as well.

Media covers US war dead’s return after 18-year ban –>

Thomson Reuters

The Things They Carried –> Tim O’Brien

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Have Thou Not a Sole?

March 24, 2009 at 9:19 pm (1)

Death by teacup…or receiving a shoe to the face from a journalist?  Which is more appetizing?  I think perhaps the shoe because if you receive death by teacup…that means you didn’t know who you were f*ing with.  Oh Vin Diesel, how we love you.  .  Back on December 16th, 2008 in Baghdad, Muntadar al-Zaidi threw his shoe calling Bush a dog.  I think on an even playing field neither Bush nor al-Zaidi knew who they were dealing with.  Some call the shoe flinging vigilante a hero.  While perhaps others think of his shoe throwing escapades as pointless.  Or perhaps the comedian in all of us wants to watch those shoes go flying.  For the sake of it, this is a news link to the video. 

            Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that

            “What this man did in an official prime ministerial venue, in the presence of the prime minister and a state visitor — the Iraqi law, the Iraqi constitution, even under the old regime, applies sentences for 15 years up to execution.”

However, al-Zaidi received neither 15 years nor execution; instead 3 years in prison.

Later, al-Maliki stated that the shoe-throwing act

            “…does not comply with the values and ethics of the Iraqi people.”

            I certainly hope that throwing smelly shoes doesn’t comply with the values of Iraqi people.  He could have been classier and thrown something else.


            Despite my tongue and cheek, the shoe throwing incident could have been potentially harmful.  This makes me think of the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman.  Our humble narrator Vladek, who is Jewish, spends a small part (though it seems like and eternity) of his life within the confines of Auschwitz.  The Nazis within these camps are the judge, jury, and executioner.  The tiniest things can result in severe punishment, however most of the time the fact that one is Jewish is punishment enough.  Vladek tells Art about this one time Anja and him where riding through Czechoslovakia on a train and first observed the swastika blowing in the wind.  A fellow on the train told them how his cousin, also Jewish, was forced to sell his business and leave the country without a single cent.  In this town, Jews received beatings for no reason in general and had to refer to themselves as filth. 

            There was another instance that was downright chilling in the persecution of Jews.  Vladek tells another tale of some black market business he was doing to get extra rations.  He tells the family that 4 men of whom he has been doing business with had been caught dealing food without coupons.  As Vladek states

            “The Germans intend to make and EXAMPLE of them!”

The poor men hung in the town square for a week as a reminder of what will happen to those that deal goods without the proper protocol.


            By no means am I referring to anyone as being a Nazi, but after reading the shoe thrower article and those boxes from Maus, they are relatively linked.  The journalist that tossed his shoe could have easily been used as an example and executed.  Furthermore, the things he said as he threw the shoes…calling Bush a ‘dog’ and saying “Long live Iraq” are kind of reminiscent to the slanders that any soldier can use toward a prisoner.


Iraqi PM says shoe-thrower had fair trial by Rohan Sullivan

Iraqi Shoe-Thrower Gets Three Years by Anthony Shadid

Maus by Art Spiegelman

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March 24, 2009 at 7:50 pm (1)

            Usually people like to think of anniversaries as happy events.  There are wedding anniversaries, first date anniversaries…and so on.  Then there are other such anniversaries in history that we would like to forget or can’t forget because they are the nails in the coffins of the past that loom over us to help us remember and learn from such tragedies and mistakes.

            Yah, this post should probably been posted on March 19 but hey, what can you do eh?  Just for the sake of it, I want to post some of the things that have also happened in history on this day ( Associated Press ).


– In 1918, Congress approved daylight saving time.

– In 1931, Nevada Gov. Fred B. Balzar signed a measure legalizing casino gambling.

– In 1945, during World War II, 724 people were killed when a Japanese dive bomber attacked the carrier USS Franklin off Japan; the ship, however, was saved. Adolf Hitler issued his so-called “Nero Decree,” ordering the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands.

– In 2008, five years after launching the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush strongly signaled he wouldn’t order troop withdrawals beyond those already planned because he refused to “jeopardize the hard-fought gains” of the past year.


I am pretty sure that now we can see what this post really concerns.  March 19, 2009, marked the 6 year anniversary of the Iraq war.  Upon doing some research I have found some statistics about the war up to this point in time.  In an article posting by Deborah White we can see the some of the breakdown.  ( To see the official Iraq Index breakdown and if you want to see the entire Archive)


Some interesting statistics (at least to me)


– 4,245 US Soldiers Killed, 31,035 Seriously Wounded

– U.S. Monthly Spending in Iraq – $12 billion in 2008

– U.S. Spending per Second – $5,000 in 2008 (per Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on May 5, 2008)

– U.S. Troop Casualties – 4,245 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army


            Now that I got that off my chest, I want to write about something that is similar yet rather different…how to tie the 6 year anniversary of Iraq to Eli Wiesel’s book Night.  When I picked up Night, I laughed a little, not because of the content (mind you the content is very intense) but because I found a huge OPERA sticker on it.  It blew my mind that Opera would endorse a book like this.  However, on the same token, that is why it can be said that people will read this book and remember this book.  She has yet again led the nation to reading another book.


            In the preface of this book, there are a few lines translated by his wife that I find incredibly powerful.     

            “Was it to leave behind a legacy of words, or memories, to help prevent history from repeating itself?  Or was it simply to preserve a record…”

            “Only those who experienced Auschwitz know what it was.  Others will never know.”

            “The topic of Auschwitz has become part of mainstream culture.  There are films, plays, novels…”

            “Sometimes I am asked if I know “the response to Auschwitz”; I answer that not only do I not know it, but that I don’t even know if a tragedy of this magnitude has a response.”

            These 4 statement/questions are some of the moral dilemmas that can be applied to any war or tragedy.  For the first statement, I perhaps would like to think of it being all 3 of what he mentioned.  However, it is more for the reader to decide.  Furthermore, Wiesel is right, any generation that didn’t experience those events and lived through it will never fully understand the severity of those internment camps.  The topic of Auschwitz should be a part of mainstream culture.  The only way people are going to learn about the holocaust is through mainstream media like books and movies etc.  Finally when he says “the response to Auschwitz”…what kind of response can there be?  There aren’t even any solid numbers of deaths due to the slaughtering of the Nazi hand.  According to, the estimated number is around 5.1 million deaths.  What is left to be said?

            Mind you I am not subtracting from the severity of Auschwitz, but those same questions can be applied to the Iraq war.  For instance, since people are writing books on Iraq, what is their purpose?  Even though the media has recorded images from war and videos etc., can American even begin to fathom what those soldiers have seen?  There are movies that have been made about soldiers coming home…and for that matter there will be many more movies made in the future.  How do Americans respond to Iraq…?  How does anyone respond to anything that brings them disbelief?

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What Happened to the American Dream?

March 23, 2009 at 8:41 pm (1)

            For us college students, there is always the fear of not being able to secure some kind of job/career after our time in school is finished.  With the way the economy is slumping, there is even the fear that with summer coming, will there be jobs for us?  Even for those who aren’t in college, they know the worries of being able to maintain their job (not getting laid off) or simply being able to find another job. 

            But wait, what does this entire blurb about joblessness have to do with war?  Actually, quite a bit.  In the article posted by correspondent Gregg Zoroya of USA TODAY entitled Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, he addresses this issue.  Labor Department economist Jim Walker states that:

            “The 11.2% jobless rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older rose 4 percentage points in the past year. That’s significantly higher than the corresponding 8.8% rate for non-veterans in the same age group”

This is a rather staggering statistic when we look in comparison to the percentile of Americans unemployed nationally.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the February national unemployment rate was 8.1%.  In the grander scheme of things, that means of that 8.1% nearly 1% is veterans (mind you I hope that my figuring is correct).

            Since it is seemingly so difficult for veterans to enter, or reenter for that matter, the work force, what is happening to these young men and women?  Sgt. 1st Class Julius Kelley makes an interesting point when he comments about veterans reenlisting once their tour is done.

            “It’s job security (in the Army)….You don’t have to worry about getting laid off in the Army.”

However, this is a fickle thing to think about.  Without getting go deep into my personal beliefs, I will pose a question.  How should we (Americans) feel that our economy is rather poor and the people that have served in a branch of the armed forces are left with the question of unemployment and the hopes of returning to civilian ranks, or a job/career in the one of the branches when hoping to regain a civilian lifestyle?


            After reading this article and reading Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughter House-Five, I have a mixed up feeling in my stomach.  Within this novel Vonnegut character Billy Pilgrim is enlisted in the armed forces.  He serves his time as a POW and lives to tell the tale of the Dresden bombing.  Afterwards, it seems flawlessly that he is able to reenter society and finish up school becoming an optometrist.  He makes money, gets married, has kids, and somehow seems to follow the American dream (at least for a little while). 

            This post may not contain any quotes from the text itself but this is the point I am trying to make.  When we reflect back to the time after WWII, there was almost a flourish of economic stability.  People were able to come home from the war and somehow pick up their lives as civilians and live this ideal of an American dream.  However, if we compare post WWII to post Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no chalice overflowing with the hopes of an American dream.  Brave men and women alike are coming home to a reception of the inability of finding jobs, earning stable income, supporting or wanting to start a family…simply not happening…no American dream.  Somewhere in the sands of time, a huge fire has come and solidified all the sand into glass.  All we can do now is look helplessly as time no longer erodes through the hourglass.  Soldiers are looking through a window at opportunities that may never happen.


Gregg Zoroya of USA TODAY

Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan


Bureau of Labor Statistics


Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five

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Pictures leading to 1,000 words

February 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm (Posts)

Should the media be able to photograph the flag covered caskets of our fallen troops?  Furthermore, can this be used to rouse emotions deep within Americans to further rally support or is this it all in vain creating more anger for war?  According to the Associated Press, President Obama…

       “…is considering whether to overturn a Pentagon policy that bans the media from taking pictures of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops returning from the battlefield.”

There are two sides to the arguement on lifting the ban on the media taking pictures.  Both points, made by John Ellsworth, President of Military Families United are that:

       “Some people want to celebrate the lives of their fallen, and share their fallen hero with the American people, while others want to hold them a little closer to the vest and keep it private. We should respect that.”

Basically what it boils down to is a respect factor, like Ellsworth stated.  Families should have the right to decide whether-or-not their fallen soldier’s coffin can be photographed.  However in the grander scheme of things, as I stated before, one can only really speculate at how these images are affecting the American people.  I think both a positive and a negative can be seen through these photographs.  Option one is that the emotions of many Americans are being evoked adding futher support for the troops.  At the moment I am not quite sure how anti-war Americans are reacting to Obama’s actions toward cleaning up Iraq, but if we look into the reactions of many Americans during the G.W. Bush reign, there are many back lashes toward the handling of action.

This whole thing about showing pictures of coffins reminds me of the poem by Rupert Brooke entitled The Dead, which is writen in relation to rallying  troops and immortalizing the fallen.  In the poem, Brooke writes:

 “Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
   There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,
   But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.”

This excerpt fits in nicely with the idea of showing respect and letting the media take pictures of the fallen soldiers of families who permit pictures.  Also, like I had mentioned before, it can envoke stronge emotions.  The men and women who have fallen, have given their life for their country.  Upon their death we become more united, at least in theory.  Furthermore by blowing the bugles or taking pictures we immortalize the dead even further.  So ultimately, I guess it is how personal one wants to be.


 Lara Jakes – Associated Press – Obama reviewing ban on photos of military coffins

Rupert Brooke’s The Dead from Google Books

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Sniper to .50 Caliber

February 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm (Posts)

While perusing Google Reader I stumbled upon the most interesting post by CJ who maintains ” A Soldier’s Perspective “, a milblog.   CJ’s take on the clip is pretty much the same as my sumation but my own words of course for this.  He has alot of great posts but this video worked perfectly with what I had in mind.  The video which was on History, but retrieved from the site Great Americans, shows two sniper insurgents wait intently for Sgt. Steven Tschiderer to turn around from his HUMV.  They take a shot at him and he goes down.  However, what the insurgents didn’t take into consideration was that he had on his flak jacket.  Sgt. Tschiderer jumps up and takes cover as other men take persuit of the snipers in HUMVs.  Anyway, in the end one of the snipers is shot by a .50 caliber machine gun and is bleeding badly.  The irony of the situation is Sgt. Tschiderer used his basic training to save the man’s life who just shot him no more than minutes ago.  HOWEVER, just go watch the video, my words do it no justice.

After seeing that video it reminded me of something that we had discussed in class.  There was a couple lines in Siegfried Sassoon’s Trench Duty that went along with the video.

  “Five minutes ago I heard a sniper fire:
  Why did he do it? … Starlight overhead–
   Blank stars. I’m wide-awake; and some chap’s dead.”

In the video we see Sgt. Tschiderer checking his gear and the snipers are waiting for him to turn around; they want that perfect kill shot.  It is the same exact situation with these men in the trenches.  On this one starlit night, a sniper was able to shoot someone who happened to poke their head up a little to far.  Almost like Tschiderer, it was one of those open oppertunities.  But it is important to note that the stars are refered to as blank stars.  Blank alludes to the idea of having no meaning, hallow, empty…nothing (etc.).  Blank stars or blank stares?  That is a good question.  For why shoot at another side when we may not even necessarly know what for.  Is there really any meaning behind the killing?  So in the long term scheme of things, without getting to preachy, what was the point of WWI and the end results of generations of men being killed.  Same with Iraq,  where were the WMD’s and why are we still there?  All we know is there is some kind of enemy but we do not know where.

Siegfried Sassoon’s Trench Duty from Google Books

CJ’s milblog ” A Soldier’s Perspective ”   

Video from Great Americans

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