Who’s News… Whose News?

Even if you have been spelunking for the past month, there is still only a slight possibility you missed the latest on these much too familiar faces.

Lindsay has some behavior classes to attend.

Bristol and Levi are on…oops, draw a line down the middle to separate them because they’re off again.  Sorry, Baby T, it looks like you get it right between the eyes.  However, thanks to TeeVee programmers, we’ll get to see them more than ever because Bristol is going to be dancing with the stars and Levi will show us how to run for mayor of Wasilla on a reality show.

Paris?  It’s a drug thing.  Again.

Don’t even mention the sports egotists who have wandered in and out of the spotlight this month.

They weren’t the only young people who were in the news in August.

Are these faces familiar to you?

You can guess why their photos were briefly in the news.  These are four of the soldiers who died in our wars during the month of August.

Pedro A. Millet Meletiche, age 20, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, died in Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan,  on his third day of duty there. His unit was attacked while doing a mine sweep of the area.  He joined the army at age 17.  His momma said she didn’t know he was doing so until he called her from the airplane.

Jamal M. Rhett, age 24, of Palmyra, New Jersey (originally from Philadelphia) was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.  He hoped to have a career doing something in medicine– perhaps a nurse, like his mother.   She said that he loved hearing even mundane news from home and that they regularly sent him care packages of Tastycakes, a favorite.

Faith Hinkley, age 23, was part of a military surveillance brigade when her unit was attacked in  Iskandariya, Iraq.  She was from Monte Vista, Colorado, population 4,000.  Faith’s family and friends remember her here.

Tristan Southworth, a 4-sport athlete from Walden, Vermont, hoped to play college baseball (shortstop) after his tour of duty. He was part of an Army National Guard combat brigade in Paktya Province, Afghanistan.   Tristan was 21 and engaged to be married.   His brother,  serving in the same unit, has been sent home.

June, 2010, was the deadliest month until July rolled around.  Fourteen have died in the last three days.  Their deaths are brief flickers in the national news–a couple of lines and sometimes a photo.  Be prepared to read fast when you hear, “Today, the Pentagon released the names of…. ”

The Washington Post carries an online site called Faces of the Fallen which includes a map to show each soldier’s hometown.  The Military Times also honors them on its Honor the Fallen website.  Their hometown and military base news organizations give more details of their lives and the families they leave behind.  Some have died still in their teens, going from Smalltown America to a remote location, Afghanistan or Iraq.  Others have been old enough to have teens of their own.  Loved ones and fellow soldiers will never forget brave soldiers we never knew.

There is no good age to die.

The injuries of survivors–physical and mental– are sanitized in a whole new subset of acronyms.  We hear little about those.  While the count of those killed has reached 5,623,  the count of the wounded is less definite.  Official numbers have it around 32,000, but some estimates triple that.   Post-traumatic stress disorder?  Estimates are that one in five soldiers suffer from this.

An extraordinary documentary about the war is currently playing in some theaters around the country.  This link tells how and why it was made.  The one below is the trailer for the film, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Documentary.   A Facebook link there shows the cities where it will be playing.  I hope that one of them is yours.

Gary Trudeau, the Doonesbury cartoonist, has a link–The Sandbox–where military personnel currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan may share their thoughts. 

The four soldiers shown above died long after mission accomplished and the surge worked. Seven soldiers died today in Afghanistan after combat troop removal began in Iraq.  When do we hear the words that actually stop the dying?

Back in the days when everyone was affected by war, the mission was clear and victory was definable.  When it ended, joyful celebrations broke out spontaneously.  I love this video, filmed in Honolulu, on  VJ Day, August 14, 1945.

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Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war. – Donald Rumsfeld

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam

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15 thoughts on “Who’s News… Whose News?

  1. My son asked his great uncle, a retired military man, after hearing one of his “fascinating” arm/war stories..”who won.” The answer was one that stuck with my son “Nobody.”

    1. My uncle, a decorated veteran of WWII, was horrified when we attacked Iraq. He said that even at 90, he’d go down to the beach and throw rocks at them if they attacked us, but he could not believe our haste in going to war.

      Your son’s great uncle was right, I think.

  2. very telling post.
    the “news” we see cannot be called news.
    I cannot even watch television “news” anymore. Heck, I rarely watch television. Morning talk shows are complete advertising. Won’t even go there about FOX, which clearly states its purpose as entertainment.
    Had my kids watch some of Forest Gump the other day…the rescue of the soldiers, the preference to die rather than come home, all really good discussion with the kids.

  3. Great post, Mary. There was a funeral here in our small town this last week for a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. He was 24 years old and married his wife (who was also a soldier) two weeks before they were both deployed in March. That was the last time they saw each other.

    There was a photo in the local paper of her and his mother watching his coffin being removed from a special military plane that brought him to our little airport from Dover. So sad…

    1. Much easier when we think of them as “the military” rather than sons and daughters, husbands and wives.
      Sometimes I try to listen to the war news as a mother or wife might hear it… it must be heartbreaking! To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, the combat troops leaving Iraq should celebrate quickly… before they are sent to Afghanistan.

  4. we do need a face to war.
    along with those young men and women who lost their lives, the names and faces of those whose lives will never be the same due to crippling injuries also need to be recognized.
    looking forward to the day when they put the politicians and national leaders in a pit and let them slug it out. wonder how many wars would be started then.

  5. Honey, I love you for this post. Forever. Military families never, ever forget the real costs; we just constantly fear that everyone else has forgotten. Thank you so very much for this. May all of your readers now stand to attention.

  6. Don’t faint, it’s finally me returning to blogging and visiting! lol It’s been a busy summer but now things are settling down so hopefully I can go back to my regular routine.

    Can you believe what Paris said about the drugs in her purse…that they weren’t hers but a friend who had borrowed her purse! lol The people who truly mean something never seem to make the news but briefly and it’s sad that it’s celebrity trash that does sell and not those who risk their lives for our countries. We just brought another Canadian soldier home in his casket the other day and the news spent a minute on the story while they spent more time on the news about Paris Hilton. Ugh. Something wrong with this picture for sure. Wonderful post, my friend. It’s good to be back to blogging:-) xoxo

  7. Thank you for writing this. I think the proliferation of cable news make our world view askew. What is important? Nobody knows any more. I hope that some viewers who came to your blog because of your being featured today (Congrats! Woohoo!!) would click on this post. THIS one was written with heart and soul, and I lurv you for it.

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