Soldier-author Colby Buzell has a story in the Washington Post that comes close to required reading, asking not for a parade but for real help for veterans struggling after returning home. Colby writes:
I’m not all that concerned with parades, not in a big city or a small town, at halftime or any other time. What concerns me is the day after the parade, the day after the Sept. 11 anniversary events, the day when the flags are put away and America stops cheering and it’s back to business as usual. That’s what scares me.
Less than 2 percent of Americans serve in the military, and for them, a parade would be just another superficial acknowledgment of a sacrifice that has not been shared and certainly not celebrated.
The whole article is very important reading, online now.
Want more Buzell? His book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq, is one of many first-person accounts of the current war. These books have their place in presenting the raw material of history; unlike previous wars stretching back to ancient times, today’s war is documented in detail and with immediacy unknown previously. There is no need to sit around and wait for Thucydides to jot down what happened anymore, as real soldiers blog in real time about what is going on.
The down side of course is Thucydides, by virtue of time and intellect, had a helluva lot more to say in his book than guys like Colby do in theirs. This is, however, not a cheap shot at Colby, or any others working in the blog/memoir/instant history genre (clears throat). They are honest about presenting what they saw, in words they used, and the reader benefits from the perspective. In Colby’s case, the book offers a realistic view of the slow-motion process of deciding to join the military (no parades, no recruitment posters, a series of dead-end jobs and suburban boredom), followed by one person’s vision of combat and Iraq in the second phase of the war, around 2004.
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