I don't remember the day being any kind of celebration of these men's wars. Wars were bad things that "just happened" to good people. The soldiering men, including her father who invaded Cuba in the Spanish-American adventure, lived or died and went back to their lives. I gathered that was the point of wars: to get back to real life, if you lived.
Preparatory to a trip to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, I've been doing my homework about the Iraq war. What I've learned is all too simple. Iraqis are never going to be able to go back to their lives.
Anthony Shadid's Night Draws Near tells the story one way.
Nir Rosen's In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq tells the same story in an even harsher vein. (Martyrs enter heaven via a green bird's stomach in Muslim writings.) Over a cumulative two years in Iraq since 2003, Rosen a U.S.-born journalist who lives in Turkey and speaks Iraqi-accented Arabic, watched the Shiites celebrate their historic festivals of martyrdom that had been repressed under Saddam Hussein and saw the growing strength of the street gang-like Shiite Mahdi Army loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. He heard resistance to the U.S. occupation preached in Sunni mosques and was the first journalist to get into Fallujah after that rebellious city held off the U.S. Army in April 2004. He was embedded with U.S. forces on the raid that captured Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush -- Mowhoush later died in U.S. custody after being stuffed head first into a sleeping bag and beaten, a death an army medical examiner ruled "homicide by asphyxia." He observed the January 2005 election in Kirkuk, a valuable oil-rich city where armed Kurdish militias were bent on driving out Iraqi Arabs.
Today Rosen, reported his conclusions in shorter form in the Washington Post:
Go read all of it and quake in horror.
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Sing it, Bruce Springsteen; I suspect most of my ancestors who served would agree.