Commentary : Four Years Later And I Still CryBy Jen Thomas
12:00AM / Thursday, March 22, 2007
On March 20, 2003, I was a high school senior, concerned more with prom and graduation than with any national news. I spent time pondering the meaning of Dante’s “Inferno” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” while hoping that one cute boy in French class would talk to me.
Sure, I knew there was a war. The “War on Terror.” The intentionally abstract and essentially meaningless title meant little to me. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 had raised some patriotic ire in me, but I was almost completely naïve to the real politics of the nation.
But something that day made me stop and watch the news. The “Shock and Awe” campaign was merely a screen-shot of bombs lighting up the night sky, with some indeterminable outlines of buildings somewhere in the distance. It was the noise, though, that made me take notice. The newscaster reported in a monotone about the events, but her voice was drowned out by the terrifying explosions. I saw the smoke and fire billowing up from the ruins, and I was scared.
I couldn’t fathom how this was different than September 11, 2001. I felt like a bully. We were doing exactly what they had done to us. We were destroying their buildings, killing their innocent, using our force to intimidate them. I started crying.
Four years later and my fear and anger at “Operation Iraqi Freedom” have not lessened. No longer a high school student, sheltered and unaware of the way government works, I’ve grown to despise everything about this war.
I don’t believe the excuses we were given as a nation to support the war – manipulating our grief after 9/11 to push us into a war with an unrelated country – nor do I believe we’ve accomplished anything. Not only have we decimated Iraq, we’ve destroyed any chance for faith or sympathy from the global community. We’ve killed thousands of people, helped create a ravaging civil war, and exposed the incompetence of our leader.
I’ve learned to distrust.
My best friend served in Iraq for nine months. The stories he recounts (on rare occasions) make me wonder if I know him at all. He was forced to see, hear, and experience the most terrible atrocities, fighting for a lie. He lived in a hole, constantly looking over his shoulder for an invisible enemy. He had to watch movies detailing the dangers of biological and chemical weapons, agents that cause nerve damage and cause slow, agonizing death.
His contract with the Marines is over now, but he attends a funeral every few months for the last few years. Every time I see him in his full uniform, I marvel at how brave he was. I know I couldn’t do it.
Four years later and I still cry. People are dying everyday. They’re living in fear of suicide bombers, roadside land mines, shooting in the streets, riots. Sure, we toppled a horrible man, took down a dictator, but at what cost?
Jen Thomas is a senior at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and is a correspondent for iberkshires.com . This article is an opinion piece representing Thomas' beliefs.