Living on a prayer
For many hours now, my readers have been begging me to comment on an important story out of Washington. Yesterday, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution calling for a national day of humility, prayer and fasting in a time of war and terrorism. Our elected representatives apparently want Americans to use this day, which will be announced by George W. Bush at a time of his choosing,"to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings and to learn how we can do better in our everyday activities, and to gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our nation."
I'm of several minds about this development. On the one hand, it seems desperately ill-advised for Congress to be issuing religious proclamations, Christian ones no less, when the United States has just invaded a country at the heart of the Muslim world. One could also call it hypocritical to ask people to seek guidance from "God," when nearly every major religious leader in the world has spoken out publicly against the war. Some extreme leftists might even wrongly say that Congress handed over its most somber constitutional responsibility--that of deciding when to declare war--over to a President who was installed in office specifically to declare war on as many countries as possible. Instead, Congress wastes its time renaming French fries and hypocritically calling for public displays of humility.
On the other hand, I could stand to lose a couple of pounds, and a day of fasting that's not Yom Kippur might be just what I need right now. I say, hooray, Congress! Hooray! Thanks for helping me slim down!
And now, a brief editorial from Christian Bauman, former soldier and also author of the Somalia war novel The Ice Beneath You. Christian has been providing excellent commentaries to this site since the war began, but he's recently been sending me so much material that I suspect he has fallen in love with me. Well, he's not the only one. I'm glad he's joined the ranks of the smitten, because this dude can write. His latest piece is about, for lack of a better term, the lighter side of war. Ladies and gentlemen, Christian Bauman:
A nice lady on the radio was just soliciting for letters and packages to send to our troops overseas. You write down some friendly, supportive words, throw in a few candy bars, and ship it off to Any Soldier, FPO Iraq.
Man, we used to love getting those envelopes. Of course, my two turns were in little wars, so we didn’t get busloads of Any Soldier packages like they did in Vietnam or Gulf War I, or the way they will in this war. We’d get a few small things, every few weeks. But it was great to get them. Great to know someone back in the world knew we were alive.
Whoever was on the mail run the day a bag of Any Soldier letters came in was a lucky bastard. All letters are not created equal, you understand. There would be fights over them: some were perfumed; always a good sign. Some had little hearts all over them; those promised to be keepers. I knew this kid who was on the mail run to the Kismaayo (that’d be Somalia, y’all) airport on one day the mail had an Any Soldier bag. He heaved it up into the back of a 5-ton truck, and stuck his head in, digging through, amazed at his good luck of being alone for thirty minutes with first dibs at the Any Soldier mail bag. The convoy got shot at on the way back to the coast, the drivers of the trucks and Humvees flooring it through the city, running over animals and anything else that got in the way. Back in the compound, it became apparent this kid had no idea of what had happened. He was too busy sniffing through the letters to notice his near demise.
The coup, of course, was getting the letters with a picture or two inside. Some sweetie from Oklahoma City. Or Laramie. I don’t know why, but the further west the return address, the more likely the envelope had a picture. And the more north, the more likely the picture was, shall we say, revealing. Triangulate this equation and you discover that the girls in the northwest get a real charge out of showing the troops exactly what it is they’re fighting for. And do the troops appreciate it? What do you think.
There was always a lot of food. And it was always melted. Or spoiled. We didn’t care. We ate it anyway. Nothing like a brownie from Vermont that’s been melted, reformed, melted again, reformed, crushed, radiated, and sniffed over. Yeah baby.
Lots of Bibles. Those were the sucker packages. You took your chances with one of the six brown packages in the mail pile, went to your little rock, sliced open the paper with your knife, already tasting the moldy three-month-old cookies that awaited you…and a Bible came out instead. There’s a hill near the port of Kismaayo (that’s Somalia, y’all) where I’ll bet a pile of those Bibles still sit today.
So this nice lady on the radio this afternoon, soliciting for Any Soldier packages. She ended her little speech with a giggle and the statement: “Of course, any kind of alcohol or pornography is strictly prohibited.”
“Lady,” I’m thinking. “That’s all we ever wanted.”