Monday, November 12, 2007

The Face of War

Patricia Smiley

As a follow up to Jacqueline’s moving Veteran's Day post yesterday, I want to mention a poignant story that appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. It was written by Luis Sinco, a photojournalist who was embedded with Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment during the battle for Fallouja, a conflict that left 100 Americans dead and 450 wounded, and killed 1200 insurgants. During the action, Sinco snapped a shot of Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller that appeared on the front page of more than 150 newspapers and became a symbol of the Iraq war. It also earned Sinco a Pulitzer nod. The notoriety caused by the photo may have saved Miller’s life. Or not. This is the first segment of a two-part story about the trials and tribulations of one Kentucky country boy who came home but brought the war with him. It's also about a journalist who cared enough to become part of the story, albeit with mixed results.

Here’s a video told in Miller’s own words about his tortured life after leaving Iraq. Watch it if you can. The photos are stunning, and Miller's personal account will break your heart.

"You’re taught from the time you’re able to comprehend that to take another person’s life is completely and morally wrong. I mean, there just is no just in it, to try and live with some thing like that. There’s no way to put it into words."
—Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller

“To look back at it now and just think about holding a rifle and firing at another human being is gut wrenching as well as brain wrecking. How do you justify it regardless of what your causes are or what their causes are?”
—Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller

“How I feel about the war today I can sum up in one question. The same question that can be asked for Viet Nam. What have we gained as a country? What have we actually accomplished other than the loss of some damn fine people—people willing to give their life for the country that we have, for this nation, for the freedom that we have.”
—Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller

Between the hedges of the centuries
A thousand phantom armies go and come,
While Reason whispers as each marches past,
This is the last of wars—this is the last!"

--Lieut. Gilbert Waterhouse

If only...


  1. Some things speak for themselves.

    Nice post, Patty.

  2. patty smiley11/12/2007 6:31 AM

    Indeed they do, Jeff.

  3. Touching and tragic. Words fail.

    Part Two of Luis Sinco's story appears today.

  4. patty smiley11/12/2007 8:01 AM

    Don't forget to watch the videos. Very evocative. Anybody remember that old poster that went something like: What would happen if they held a war and nobody showed up?

  5. Thanks, Patty....

  6. My heart breaks for this young man, in every possible way. But what have we got? Remember 9/11 . . . has it happened again in the U.S.? No. We took the war to them and they are very busy fighting us over there.

    Here the battle is fought by domestic law enforcement agencies with the backup of the military, if requested.

    Patty - life as modern Americans know it died on 9/11. This is the world we live in now. There are over 1,000,000,000 people who think everyone should be their religion or die.

    This is what our soldiers fight for . . . and I continue to pray for them day and night.

  7. As a veteran, I'll only say that today, we celebrate Freedom of Speech.

  8. Thanks, Patty, for this post. I couldn't access the video, but have the LA Times from yesterday. One million people dead as a result of the war in Iraq - and he's right, what have we achieved?

  9. Ok, Patty, I viewed the video clip via the LA Times - oh, my Lord, it's short but so deeply disturbing. That he was given the cold shoulder by a Washington big wig is unconscionable. I was driving through Santa Barbara today and happened to pass a church with a sign outside, "There are no unwounded in war." Isn't that the truth.

  10. patty smiley11/13/2007 8:39 AM

    The truth simply stated.