The quick Thanksgiving visit of Bush to Iraq, much ballyhooed in the press, was seen differently by an army nurse in Landstuhl, Germany, where casualties from the war are treated. She sent out an e-mail: “My ‘Bush Thanksgiving’ was a little different. I spent it at the hospital taking care of a young West Point lieutenant wounded in Iraq. . . . When he pressed his fists into his eyes and rocked his head back and forth he looked like a little boy. They all do, all nineteen on the ward that day, some missing limbs, eyes, or worse. . . . It’s too bad Bush didn’t add us to his holiday agenda. The men said the same, but you’ll never read that in the paper.”
As for Jeremy Feldbusch, blinded in the war, his hometown of Blairsville, an old coal mining town of 3,600, held a parade for him, and the mayor honored him. I thought of the blinded, armless, legless soldier in Dalton Trumbo’s novel Johnny Got His Gun, who, lying on his hospital cot, unable to speak or hear, remembers when his hometown gave him a send-off, with speeches about fighting for liberty and democracy. He finally learns how to communicate, by tapping Morse Code letters with his head, and asks the authorities to take him to schoolrooms everywhere, to show the children what war is like. But they do not respond. “In one terrible moment he saw the whole thing,” Trumbo writes. “They wanted only to forget him.”
In a sense, the novel was asking, and now the returned veterans are asking, that we don’t forget.
Sometimes people forget that it was us anti-war folks who had enough foresight to worry about these problems before the war took place.
I really think W should spend a day per week visiting injured soldiers. It might make him a bit less likely to take us into an immoral and unnecessary war again.