2007-03-05 16:01:14 UTC
By Stacy Bannerman
Posted March 5, 2007
When one military wife got the news that her husband was coming home
from Iraq, they didn't tell her he was going to bring the war back
I was folding fliers for a high school workshop on nonviolence when my
husband, a mortar platoon sergeant with the Army National Guard 81st
Brigade, walked into my office and said, "I got the call."
We hadn't talked about the possibility of him being deployed for
months, not since President Bush had declared, "Mission accomplished."
But I knew exactly what he meant; I didn't know then what it would
mean for us.
We weren't prepared, and neither was the Guard. The Guard sent him
into harm's way without providing some of the basic equipment and
materials, such as global positioning systems, night vision gear, and
insect repellant, that he would rely on during his year-long tour of
duty at LSA Anaconda, the most-attacked base in Iraq, as determined by
the sheer number of incoming rockets and mortars, which averaged at
least five per day.
Unlike active duty military, the National Guard had no functional
family support system or services in place. While the Guard was
scrambling to get it together, my husband was already gone, and I was
alone, just months after we had moved to Seattle.
Twenty-four hours after Lorin boarded the plane for Iraq, I hung a
blue star service flag -- denoting an immediate family member in
combat -- in the front window. Then I closed the blinds, hoping to
keep the harbingers of death at bay. They still got in, through the
phone, the Internet, the newspaper, and the TV.
Each week, I heard of a friend's husband or son: wounded, maimed,
shot, hit, hurt, burned, amputated, decapitated, detonated, dead. A
glossary of pain. I checked icasualties.org all the time, cursing and
crying as the numbers rose relentlessly, praying that Lorin wouldn't
I got involved with Military Families Speak Out, which is exactly what
the name suggests: an organization of people with loved ones in
uniform who are adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq. We were breaking
the military's traditional code of silence by publicly protesting this
war, and the pushback was intense, particularly for military wives. I
was ostracized by the women married to men in my husband's company,
and my husband was reprimanded by his superior officers. I was an
"unruly spouse," and Lorin could "expect adverse career consequences."
I thought being forced to serve in a war based on lies was itself an
"adverse consequence." I said as much during an interview on Hardball
with Chris Matthews, which just happened to be broadcast on the big-
screen TV during lunchtime in the mess tent at Anaconda. Lorin didn't
see it, but approximately 5,000 of the troops he was serving with did.
He heard about it for weeks, but never asked me to stop. He had his
own questions and concerns about Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During the run-up to the war, when 76 percent of Americans supported
the invasion of Iraq, we protested in the streets of Spokane. But he
was contractually bound and committed to his men. He clung to what
he'd been briefed on regarding the Guard's mission in Iraq, which
included building schools for kids.
Two months into his deployment, I got a call from him, and he said,
choking up, that there was an "accident." Two Iraqi children were dead
because he gave the order to fire a couple of mortar rounds. Several
weeks later, he phoned again, his voice flat and emotionless, to tell
me that the men he had dinner with the previous night had been killed
by the same Iraqi soldiers that they were training six hours earlier.
Days went by without any communication -- anxious hours, restless
nights. I swerved between anger and fear.
His e-mails were sometimes delayed, or returned to him as
undeliverable, with portions blacked out by military censors. The ones
that got through asked for more homemade treats, baby wipes,
batteries, movies, and magazines. One missive informed me about
rockets landing next to the trailer where he slept ... while he was in
bed. Another ended abruptly because he was under attack.
Lorin spent hours loading coffins onto cargo jets; I spent days on red
Finally, the phone rang with the news that my husband was coming home,
after nearly a year in Iraq. They didn't tell me he'd bring the war
He'd been back for almost two months, but he was still checking to see
where his weapon was every time he got in a vehicle. He drove
aggressively, talked aggressively, and sometimes I could swear that he
was breathing aggressively. This was not the man I married, this hard-
eyed, hyper-vigilant stranger who spent his nights watching the dozens
of DVDs that he got from soldiers he served with in Iraq. He couldn't
sleep, and missed the adrenaline surge of constant, imminent danger.
The amateur videos of combat eased the ache of withdrawal from war,
but did nothing to heal my soldier's heart.
At a conference on post-deployment care and services for soldiers and
their families, a Marine Corps chaplain asked, "How do you know if
you're an SOB? Your wife will tell you!"
Har-de-har-har-har. The remark got the predictable round of applause
from the capacity crowd, which, with one exception, wasn't living with
anyone who had recently returned from Iraq. I was that exception, and
it infuriated me that this was a joke. The Pentagon's solution for the
constant stress endured by those of us who felt bewildered and
betrayed was: "Learn how to laugh." With help from the Pentagon's
chief laughter instructor, families of National Guard members were
learning to walk like a penguin, laugh like a lion, and blurt "ha, ha,
hee, hee, and ho, ho."
That's the first half. See the whole thing here:
Every American and Brit should know that more than Six million people
have been killed or crippled in Iraq since Bush/Cheney's vulgar war
was started, so it has broken up millions of lifes and caused more
suffering than anyone could comprehend. 60,000 marriages is nothing
compared to the extreme misery our f'd up government has given the
The Bush regime (and all the democrats who've gone along with them) is
a hideous global disaster. They're guilty of the worst crimes against
humanity and should be dealt with in an international criminal court.
It's a huge pity that the leadership of the nations of the world don't
stand together in condemnation of the United States for the invasions
of Afghanistan and Iraq. Hugo Chavez is one of the few that has
enough heart and courage to do that.
The USA wins the top prize for being the worst bully the world has
ever seen and the number one exporter of horror - both in fact and in
fiction. Shame on all the democrats have supported the invasion/
occupation too. They're all screwed up, and insanely eager to support
the barbarism that got started by Cheney and his little dog, George
Be proud my fellow americans, be proud. The people of the world don't
hate the USA, they hate the barbaric things that those in the white
house have had done to others. This is one terribly F'd up world,
largely thanks to the so called 'leadership' of the USA.
Fortunately all of that will soon change and we'll be forever free
from the horrors caused by extreme ignorance and greed.
Widespread dissemination of this article is encouraged. Please share
with others asap!
Some good sources for news (that are not corporate hogwash outlets -
like the major "news" networks)
"Man must change or die. There is no other course."
The World Teacher
"War paralyzes your courage and deadens the spirit of true manhood.
It degrades and stupefies with the sense that you are not responsible,
that 'tis not yours to think and reason why, but to do and die,' like
the hundred thousand others doomed like yourself. War means blind
obedience, unthinking stupidity, brutish callousness, wanton
destruction, and irresponsible murder." Alexander Berkman
"It's not a matter of whether the war is not real, or if it is,
is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be
continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of
poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different
past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always
planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged
by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the
victory over either Eurasia or East Asia but to keep the very
structure of society intact." George Orwell
Orwell also said: "During times of universal deceit, telling the
truth becomes a revolutionary act."