Touched by the War
LYNN NEARY, host:
The longer a war goes on, the better a chance it will hit home.
I was reminded of that truth this week when I read the story about the car bomb attack that killed a U.S. soldier, an Iraqi civilian and two CBS journalists. Six soldiers were also injured, as was CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier.
I don't know Ms. Dozier, nor her two colleagues, but as I read the story I did see a name I recognized. A friend who's a producer for CBS accompanied Ms. Dozier on the flight to a hospital in Germany. I thought my friend was safely ensconced in a CBS bureau stateside, so in a nanosecond I went from not even knowing she was in Baghdad to breathing a sigh a relief that she was not hurt, and that was followed by a wave of guilt and sorrow for all of the victims of the attack.
So now I have feeling that I can't shake, that's it's only a matter of time before someone I know is killed or injured. I will join the thousands and thousands of Americans, Iraqis, and others around the world who are grieving a personal loss in this war. It could be a colleague in the new business or it could be someone in the military.
Early on a good friend's son was sent to Iraq, Afghanistan too. He had joined the military in peace time, but after 9/11 he was facing real combat and was among the first to go.
When he came home safe and sound it seemed as though the war would be over soon, but now it's gone on long enough that other children are growing up and reaching an age when they too might end up in the war zone someday.
So now I find myself thinking of another war and a funeral I attended many years ago for a boy who had once lived next door to my family. He was barely out of West Point, just married, when he went to Vietnam and he returned home quickly in a casket. A military funeral with full honors was held at West Point. It was pouring rain. We stood under umbrellas as a military band played a funeral dirge.
I couldn't take my eyes off his widow. She looked unbearable young and unbearably sad and she was just about my age. How was it possible that he was gone and had left a widow behind?
That was when the war hit home for me, something that all the protests and politics and news stories couldn't touch. When a war becomes personal, it becomes real. It's a lesson I'd rather not learn again.