Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Company of Soldiers--A Final Word

Here in fly-over land where Attaturk and Champollion roam the mean streets, we got a sanitized version of the very good A Company of Soldiers. How do I know it was a sanitized version? I heard one "SHIT", and I know if I got a taste of what these guys gulped down in huge buckets, let me tell you, George Carlin's 7 dirty words would be the least of it.

It was, in a word, Frontline. Just a great look at a sliver of what life looks like in Baghdad. And it is not a pretty sight. We saw high ranking officers lecturing tribal leaders about harboring terrorists, other officers reminiding locals that we are there to build schools, not fight, enlisted soldiers talking about their job is to kill the other poor bastard fighting for his country, and on, and on. A couple of scenes stick out for me. In one scene an American soldier shoots a dog that apparently belongs to a local. Wathcing the dog die and the response of the apparent owner looked all the world like a microcosm of all our problems in Iraq, why we can never "win". The other depicted troops talking to a local who expressed wanting to help. The local, an old man, spoke broken English and told the soldiers he had to be careful how long he lingered because he would be labelled an American spy.

I've heard the old saying about people finding God in foxholes yet I was struck by the strong presence of not just religion but the mention of Jesus Christ while the soldiers prayed before maneuvers. My disclaimer: I've never been in the military (though I am an itinerant Catholic). I know that soldiers have a code they live by, a code I'll never understand. And I'll bet they've got a way of accommodating Jews, Muslims, or atheists, or those people simply don't take offense at the overt display of Jesus H. Christianity. For the life of me though, I can't see it.

So here's how I come down on it: it is a good thing God is on our side.

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