Bon Chance Sergeant Nephew-Bah

It seems that Iraq, like all wars large and small, touches everyone in one direct way or another. In our case, the connection is through our Nephew-bah who left this week for a sojourn in the sunny Middle East. After the short hop from Fairbanks to Kuwait, he and his unit will spend a month unpacking the equipment and acclimatizing to the unAlaska-like weather. Then, it's off to Mosul for a year-long exercise in trying to keep the Iraqis from each other's throats while they try to establish a democracy - something they haven't managed to do in several millennia we might add not so cynically.

Nephew-bah is a great kid by anyone's stretch of the imagination. He left home in Maine to join the Army, originally planning to make it a career. He got good grades in school. He kept his nose clean. And he worked hard in the Army too. He recently married and his young bride now finds herself moving alone to Salt Lake City to attend college.

His mother and his aunt, Mrs. Poobah, worry about him terribly, barely comforted by the fact that he will be stationed in a location that is relatively "safe" compared with the smoldering bullet and mortar-filled hell that is Baghdad. The Poobah is concerned about him as well, but is more comforted by the fact that the sheer mathematical odds against it being his time is a rather more logical, pragmatic way to view the situation. Besides, we are, after all, the Omnipotent Poobah and are not completely defenseless. We hope that our all-powerful juju is enough to protect him from the evil sanctions of El Diablo del Dubya.

We had the great fortune of volunteering for the military during what was probably the only four-year period in decades in which the US didn't manage to get involved in some imbecilic shooting war. All of our missions involved humanitarian calls for relief or training to keep a crumbling Soviet block at bay. Ours was a four-year whirlwind of world-travel and In hindsight we're proud of our service, it doesn't seem quite fair.

However, we have spent a considerable amount of time in close contact with men who have seen combat. While all of them have funny stories to mask the ultimate impact of their wars, none of them returned as the same person they left. For some, their war is a distant memory, fraught with danger and anguish, they'd rather forget. For others, it follows them every day of their lives and is as unshakable as the color of their skin. For a thankfully smaller few, there are names on solemn granite walls to remember them by.

Our personal belief is that service to our nation is a high calling, whether it be as a soldier or as a school teacher. In an idealistic world, all of those serving us are doing it as a way to make this a better place. We also believe that wars should be avoided at nearly all costs - our military usually playing an important key in that effort - but we equally believe that sometimes wars cannot be avoided by simply asking the other tyrants to play nice with us. It is for those times that our military stands ready.

Unfortunately, this war is clearly not one of those times.

The US military is one of the unique few that still follows policy orders rather than dictating them. They pledge to answer only to the elected civilian government when it comes to joining a fight and that is what they are doing now, even if a majority of our citizens do believe this is the wrong cause to join. So, we believe that it is appropriate to honor their service and not hold them responsible for the actions of an addleheaded civilian leadership. We should be proud of them, support them, and wish them safety. We also strongly believe that it is our patriotic duty to vote out those ultimately responsible for their deployment so we can refocus our country on a path that can bring all citizens pride. To do less would be, in Ann Coulter's words, "treason".

Bon chance mon Newphew-bah. Bon chance.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, August 18, 2005

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