Our friends are hurting | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

Our friends are hurting 

click to enlarge frontporch.jpg

My younger brother left for Iraq last May. His wife gave birth to their first child in August. The hospital lost the Web feed with Baghdad, so we had to stay connected the old-fashioned way, with cell phones. I provided the play-by-play to my brother over the phone as I tried to allay his fears and let him know his wife and child were safe. As we celebrated our happiness over a new generation of our family being born, the unmistakable sounds of bombs and artillery fire provided the background score.

My brother did not say much that day, but he didn't have to.

We talked over Christmas. I tried to disguise the tremendous guilt I felt, floating through the sea of wrapping paper and gift tags. This was the first Christmas in 22 years we didn't spend together, and the looming possibility of never having another Christmas together ticked in the static on the phone.

"Is it getting any better over there?" I asked.

"No," he said bluntly.

He didn't really say much that day either.

Recently, I heard a story from friends in the military who rallied around one another for support after a convoy of their men and women were attacked. As I tried to get details of the attack, one brief text message spoke volumes: "My friends are hurting."

I spent the rest of the weekend reading and rereading that message. Each time, it felt just as fresh and raw as I thought of the friends and families of those involved. Of course, I thought of my little brother, too.

Whenever I mention my brother to anyone new—and I try to talk about him often—they tend to ask what it's like to have a sibling at war. People do not quite understand the twinge of panic when a breaking news bulletin is posted, the terror of late-night phone calls, or just the process of daily living for 18 months, praying for the best and fearing the worst reality has to offer. For most civilians, it's easy to forget we are a nation in the fifth year of war—especially now, as corporate media push the bad news out of Iraq to the back burner in aid of their presidential agendas.

When people ask me how I cope, I realize I don't have much to say about the experience—but I shouldn't have to. The question alone is explosive. If the casualties of this war were as personal to everyone as it has been for some, it would have ended long ago. But it is as personal to every one of us. Beyond the rhetoric, politics and spin, by the next time the smoke clears and the next news flash airs, if we truly wish to support the troops maybe we should all say to ourselves, "Our friends are hurting."

  • If the casualties of this war were as personal to everyone as it has been for some, it would have ended long ago.

Latest in Front Porch

More by Michael Gagnon

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »


Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Follow-up to my "nervous mom" comment. The last coupe of weeks we have been in many situations with individuals that …

by paulapowers on Governor's School blues (Front Porch)

Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Most Read

  1. Dot-con (Peripheral Visions)
  2. Smug Revisionism (Letters to the Editor)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation