An Anniversary, as I Understand it

We entered this version of the Iraqi war five years ago this week. No one could have guessed (although I’m pretty sure we pay a couple branches to do just that) how miserable the last 60 months would pass. Initially, it seemed like we’d made the best choice by invading Iraq. Americans were still smarting from 9/11 and looking for a culprit to blame. Our leaders told us those villans were in Iraq; we’d find them there. We’d have our justice. We nodded, like scared sheep and laughed at the pacifics. There would be blood and we would enjoy it.

The statues of Saddaam came down. The Iraqi people, Shia and Sunni alike, partied in the street praising Allah that the violent, horrific Hussein tenure was finally finished. In the US, we waved flags, patted ourselves on the backs, praised the administration for a job well done. Alas, the celebration was premature. Saddaam was found in a hole. We watched him assassinated months later. His sons were killed too. Some how we knew these deaths were not our justice, but we celebrated them anyway.
In the meantime, the Shia and Sunni remembered why they weren’t too keen of each other’s views. They retreated to their prospective neighborhoods and came up with a plan: survival meant killing the other. The US was suddenly in the position of courting men we’d never wanted to have a relationship with. Iraqis turned on each other. They turned on the US soldiers trying to create a government and stabilize the region. The Kurds pushed north, strengthening their own communities and trying desperately to stay beneath the radar until they could sharpen their claws against their No. 1 enemy — Turkey.

We watched. Initially, CNN was on every television and news radio drowned out Musak in elevators, the dentist office, the convenience store. But when one year turned into two, we became accustomed to the death and violence of war. It was still disgusting, but not as horrifying as it had been in 2001. Subconsciously, we were disgusted with ourselves. We watched great men fall for the government’s lies and have their careers ruined in the process. Instead of taking to the streets and rioting like other democracies around the world, we went on a shopping spree. We made ourselves feel better at a real estate buffet, borrowing until we couldn’t borrow anymore. Now, five years later, we’re tapped. The war is still killing boys and girls from our hometowns. Iraqis are still understandably upset that they have some of the world’s richest land and yet cannot get a steady government in charge to do anything to protect their resources. Bank runs, democratic candidates tearing each other apart by the limb, and a war that continues to rage — the news is no longer entertaining. We’ve switched from The Economist to US Weekly and hate ourselves for it, but the enemies are much easier to understand in Hollywood.

To the soliders of the United States and all the other countries in the world who’ve selflessly served in this war — my thanks. I am so grateful I live in America and I am incredibly and deeply touched that you are fighting to promote liberty. I have to think that is why we are there; even as the bodies stack up, I have to think the United States had and has good intentions and we are in Iraq and Afghanistan because we want the world to be better tomorrow.

To Iraq, I am sorry we haven’t done a better job of stabilizing your country. I’m sorry this war has taken so long and that so many of your innocents have died in the process. I am sorry that Americans seem bored by the violence that plagues your daily lives. I have hope we’ll be celebrating the incredible economy and stability of your country in five years to come.

That is an anniversary I’ll celebrate.

14 Replies to “An Anniversary, as I Understand it”

  1. Amen to that! My 6 year old son asked me where Baghdad is (NPR was on)and I told him Iraq and he was very excited to hear that because he has been studying his map of the world and his animal atlas and having such a great time visualizing the world. Then I told him there was a war there and he asked who was fighting them and it broke my heart to tell him we were.

  2. Writing as a military spouse, it breaks my heart to read your post and know that there is no end in site. Your words so beautifully convey how we, as so many military families, feel about things. Our spouses are taught not to question but it will not be soon enough when we get to call all the men and women we love so much home – for good. I pray to God everyday that day will come!

  3. I really want my countrymen and women go home imediately from Iraq and Afghanistan. We followed US steps coz we’re partners, but I do really think this is pure insanity now. We paid our tribute too, and I think it’s enough. War isn’t, has never been, and won’t never be, the answer.

  4. Hi Kel,
    I agree with your post completely. My 5th wedding anniversary is this coming week. One day pre-declaration of war, lovely huh? Someone just said what anniversary are you celebrating? Then followed with “Wow we have been at war for 5 years”. So celebrate my wedding anniversary on Saturday, something more exciting to celebrate than our lack of figuring out what to do to help Iraq!
    Miss you!

  5. My brownie troop is sending a care package to a local Guard unit stationed in Iraq. And our dear friend Joe is there. I think about the soldiers and the job they must do, like it or not, everyday. And I admire them so.

    What a mess we have caused in the lives of so many. I remember so well driving from San Franscisco to the Hearst Castle in October of 2000, listening to a debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore on the radio in the dark on Highway 101. Bush was totally berating Gore for the Clinton administration’s policy of nation building. I turned to my husband and said “I’ll bet if Bush is elected we’ll be at war in Iraq within two years.” That is one bet I so desparately wish I’d lost.

  6. My heart goes out to each soldier as well as his/her family and friends who worry each and every day whether their loved one will return safely.

  7. It seems like our nation has become the entity we hate, and that any comments in opposition to current policies is viewed as unpatriotic. Keep talking Kelli. đŸ™‚

  8. I am thankful that I am a woman born in America. I’m grateful for our troops who protect our liberties. I pray that good conquers evil. And, I have faith in our nation to build a better tomorrow.

  9. That is such a more than accurate description of the the state of this country since the war in Iraq began. I hope things will change for the better with a new leader.

    ‘Render the country ungovernable’ was the slogan in South African townships at the height of apartheid. The strategy was to destabilize the country so that the apartheid government would not have a moment of peace until we ALL could participate in governing OUR country. Don’t know why I’m adding this… I guess it’s because there’s so much that happened during the drumming up of this war, and is currently happening, that reminds of South Africa of the 80s.

    A wise person learns from other people’s mistakes and a fool learns from his own.

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