Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Sometimes the demons are really angels, come to strip away the remnants of your life to make you free.
-A rough paraphrase from the movie Jacob's Ladder.

The last 48 hours have been pretty difficult for me to bear for a few simple personal reasons. Indifference is the starvation of the soul. I had to change scenery to try to work through it all, so I went for a walk around base. The quad that I live on is pretty small and uninteresting. The only place to walk is outside the quad on a 2.5 mile pill shaped loop of a road in the center of base. Off I went by myself and into a surreal little experience.

Taking consideration of my personal life and personal experiences since I've been deployed, I know I have a tremendous sadness that consumes me. I began to walk. Lately it has been dusty and inhospitable by most westerners' standards, visibilty is low and everything tends to be beige. That is when I realized how much harder life is in this environment; how many comforts I have given up, things that I had taken for granted now not even a part of my life. I began to feel stripped away but free. The sadness separated from me and I felt as though it didn't have to define me anymore.

Then came some Iraqi soldiers driving by in their LWTs (Little White Trucks) with the machine guns mounted on back. They waved and beeped in a friendly, brotherhood-of-soldiers kinda way. There's always that moment of mistrust when you see a foriegn army with weapons coming at you. That's when things started to get surreal for me. I realized that I am more apprehensive about living with the sadness and its cause than of facing armed Iraqis and death. Death is easy, takes no real effort.

I kept walking around the loop and past some Iraqi guards. They waved as I passed. That's when I started thinking about how friendly these Iraqi soldiers are despite their situation. Walking a bit father, I started to notice that evening prayers had begun and from the mosque a voice droned over the loudspeakers. By this time I was so drowned in my surroundings that I left thoughts of myself behind. Passed by armed troops in HMMWVs and LWTs, I could see in the dimming distance groups of people milling around. I came upon dozens of Iraqis gathered around a soccer field (really a flat piece of dusty land with homemade nets at either end). As I approached, many of them stared at me until I waved and sat down. They smiled and went back to watching the game. I couldn't at first describe how amazing it was to me that this seemingly simple situation was happening. Amazing because I was the only American sitting with a large group of Iraqis playing soccer in some rural outstretch of an anarchic Iraq. Amazing too when you remember back to when Saddam was in power, his sons would summarily execute the soccer teams if they lost.

These particular Iraqis are on base because their sense of patriotism dwarfs mine. They have volunteered to be soldiers in the IA (Iraqi Army). They are not the best trained, most fit, most disciplined group of soldiers. But they have heart and some deep seated desire to see Iraq heal. Despite dozens of casualties in April, they still train with an eagerness. They know it is an uphill battle for them to form an army and take back control of their country. They had the courage to volunteer to make that difference. They put their lives on the line frequently taking high risk assignments at check points and guard posts. Last year 50 soldiers fresh from Basic training, received here at Caldwell, were mass-executed on their way home on leave. Each time we convoy from here and travel through the front gates, there are lines of volunteers gathered for in-processing. This is the spirit and determination that really can make changes. I was recently sent a wonderful article written by Ben Stein in which he praises American soldiers for being the true heroes and role models for our nation. I turn and salute the soldiers of the IA for possessing the same values and selfless service in the face of deadly adversity.

I soon got up and continued my walk back to my little haven amidst this surreality. For a few moments, I was not burdened by my sadness. I found escape in the idea that these particular Iraqis had set aside their lives, material possessions, attachments, to find hope in an uncertain future. ...and still they played soccer.


Anonymous LeeAnn said...

Beautifully written!

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

An excellent reminder that, despite differences of religion, language, and politics, it is possible to have a simple human moment amid such stark circumstances. I don't know what the source of your sadness is Dorman, but remember that each day brings new opportunity, new experiences and new hope. What you describe is something that I have always believed. At the root of it, we are all simply people, and at some point, it is possible to find a commonality that can bring us together in small, beautiful ways. You are lucky to been able to feel that.

Blogger Robert Chase said...

Hopefully you'll be able to get back on IM, since I am off for the summer, we can talk and BS or whatever.

btw, it's futbol


Anonymous Findley Labrador said...

Dorman, you are soulful in your sadness. A poet. Still in touch with joy, still believing that all is not lost.

Blogger Dorman said...

Thank you everyone. I appreciate the feedback. For reference,too, Nirodha

and I stumbled upon an IM client that gets around the army filtering system, it also does voice Was easy to set up and seems pretty decent. I hate having a lot of different clients but this is the only one that works for me :(

If anyone decides to try it, look me up as 'dmdorman'

Blogger Crystal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger Dorman said...

ah, anonymous cowards ignorant of technology.

Visit Length 41 mins 37 secs
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows 2000
Resolution 1024x768
Javascript Enabled

dumbasses. Took me 2 seconds to find that, like I can't trace that right to the computer used.

when will people learn

Blogger Dorman said...

reserved range IP, came from a local network nearby, could probably walk over to the MWR and meet the idiot personally.

Blogger Crystal said...

why did you delete my comment

Blogger Dorman said...

your comment seemed to stick out oddly after I deleted the anonymous idiot's comments.

Blogger Crystal said...

yeah, but it would have been funny. people would have thought something and gotten mad at me, and that would have been funny. "drama drama drama" nickel if you can tell me the movie! its a personal chick flick fav. hope i didn't give too many hints

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Awww man! What did I miss? Jeez...I never get to see the good stuff...

Blogger SnotSucker said...

Sorry I've missed some counseling sessions ;) Did they shut down your yahoo again? Open proxies aren't working? & I just uninstalled my skype about a month ago. Ugghhh....

Blogger Crystal said...

just some petty name calling IL, some people are just rude. i succumbed to participate in it. if you can't teach em, join em.

dorman, it sorta scares me that you can see who is checking your site and where they are located. but does that mean you prolly know this weirdo??

Blogger Dorman said...

doubt I know them or the cracks would have been a bit funnier and creative. Besides, it may be hard for many of you to imagine, but I get along with everyone around here very well. I tend to keep to myself more ;)
Also, remember I am on base with a bunch of idiots that feel compelled write on every surface they can at any time they the shitter walls, sides of trucks, etc. So it was probably one of those wiseguys. If I would have been here when they were posted I could have walked over and kicked an ass. Would have been greatly satisfying. But, I was busy braving the shower trailer again. I will leave the comments to only registered users for a few days since it seems that these anonymous idiots are attacking a lot of different bloggers. Then I will go back to open posting. I am all about the free exchange of ideas and info. Criticism is great and encouraged as long as there is a productive basis for it.

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

I had a problem once...just once...with someone trying to be anonymous and making ugly comments. But, when I pointed out to them that I was pretty sure that I knew who they were, they shut up. Love stat counters!

Blogger Robert Chase said...

"Shitter's full."

Best line from a stupid movie. A nickle as well, to the first one to name the movie. :)

I downloaded skype.


Blogger Crystal said...

why does the military restrict aim/yahoo iming?

Blogger mattandriver said...

I hope you reach your dream(s). Numbness is not always everlasting.

Blogger Keige said...

You are truly an American hero and your story was very touching and beautifully writtin. I am new to Blogspot and have been perusing through many blogs but found yours to stand out the most. It is wonderful that you share your experiences with the rest of us, since we only hear what we are told on the news. Thank you for what you are doing in Iraq and I want you to know that you are truly appreciated. God bless you!!!

Blogger Allura said...

I absolutely agree, that post was beautifully written.

I'm glad that you see so deeply into the human aspect of this situation. It's terribly easy to get into an us vs. them mentality, especially when your cultures, languages, and skin colours are so different.

I have great respect for the soldiers that serve. I know it's a tough job.


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