Tuesday, January 3, 2006
The Marlboro Marine
Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times
I have never seen this picture before it showed up on AOL today, but from what I read, the soldier shown here became famous as the Marlboro Marine in 2004.
Today when I saw it for the first time I realized that most of the pictures we see from Iraq seem to be of soldiers who aren't so dirty and grimy. Is that planned? Are the men coming back from combat made presentable before pictures are taken? Or are photographers kept away?
This photo reminds me so much of pictures from WWII and Vietnam. Raw and painful to look at. You can see the exhaustion on the soldier's face. His long night has stretched out into the day. His eyes stare off into the distance. The cigarette hangs on his lips as if the effort to keep it there is almost too great.
Iraq seems like it's on the back burner. I was reminded of how little we seem to hear anymore, when I flew to London over the holidays.
My seatmate was in the military. He was very nervous about the takeoff -- my favorite part of the plane ride. I get a rush when we get up enough speed to leave the ground. He got pretty uncomfortable.
We were flying in a 777, sitting over the wing, so you could really feel the power and sound of the huge engines as we made our way down the runway. I was loving it. He was gripping the armrests. I told him I would love to ride in a helicopter some time. He said he'd ridden in plenty while he was in Iraq. How fun, I said. Not so fun, he said. None of them had any doors on them. Wouldn't that be neat, I said, thinking about the incredible view you could have -- nevermind the enemy shooting at you. He just laughed because flying in a helicopter made him airsick, so they always had him sit on the outside where he became a target, but he could also throw up easily without bothering anybody.
So far one person I know who was in Iraq is back okay. Another in Afghanistan has been wounded, but he wouldn't give me details. He stopped contacting me after letting me know he was alive, probably because I was so emotional about hearing from him after a protracted silence. For four months I thought he was dead.
There has been a PBS series aboutRonald Reagan on American Experience. The show pointed out that the CIA was supposed to be adept at assessing the Soviet strengths during the Cold War. But it was when we discovered the Soviet weaknesses that we understood how vulnerable they might be. Interesting that the CIA didn't know much about Soviet weaknesses at all.
Which makes me wonder -- Why in the heck can't we find Osama bin Laden. Does it go back to 911, when the news scroll along the bottom of the coverage asked people who knew Farsi and Arabic to contact the FBI? I laughed out loud reading that. I wish I had TIVO back then. What a bunch a rubes we looked like.
Do we still have the inability to find people who can walk among the terrorists and infiltrate their groups, because our deepseated religious and ethnic prejudices have precluded hiring anyone who isn't one of US?
Just contemplating my navel.