Thanks to a military blogger who calls himself “Blackfive” (“The Paratrooper of Love”), we have a snapshot of what Christmas looks like this year at Camp Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad. It’s a man dressed up in a Santa Claus suit, standing behind a “sleigh” that is actually an unmanned aerial vehicle and six soldiers who are wearing antlers and perched precariously on the launch ramp.
Or we can read this Christmas message posted Dec. 21 from “Lt. Col. Patrick,” an Air Force C-130 pilot. Next to a picture, taken at his base, of a Christmas tree decorated with festive lights, he writes: “Holiday deployments are difficult but the one characteristic that comes from being away from home at this time of year is that everyone else misses home too. You don’t hear people actually complain about missing Christmas at home I think because we’re all in it together.” Misery may love company, but in the military, it keeps its mouth shut.
This holiday season, America is struggling through a searing national debate about Iraq. The horror of the war feels immediate, even to people who’ve never been near Baghdad, but less so the humanity of the thousands of American soldiers who are serving there. That’s part of the Iraq disconnect: The war dominates our political life, but the men and women in the midst of it often are nearly invisible. We see them in thumbnail photos in group obituaries but not as real, living people.
If you read soldiers’ blogs, and I’ve looked at several dozen over the past few days, you see a recurring anger that the media aren’t telling their story. So I’ll let a few of the military bloggers speak for themselves. If you want to share in the conversation, a good place to start is http://milblogging.com, which collects blogs from soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.
WaPo profiles milbloggers at Christmas
December 24, 2006 by Steve Field