There seem to be no calm in my soul that supports the stand that the members of the 1st Cavalry Division were indeed heroes. And not just ordinary heroes, but heroes worth paying no ordinary homage and tribute. To lift beyond Raddatz’ work, I have a few friends and distant relatives who have been a drafted, and some who have lost their lives to the war on Iraq. And although it has been a loss for me, I do not blame this war that claimed them.
During the inbound account of the cavalry into the city of Sadr, the author notes the background of each soldier as a person, highlighting the humanness the war has so forgotten nowadays. It illuminates that each of these brave soldiers was, more than just a soldier, a parent, a sibling, a spouse…a child; that they are loved and cared for back at the home front; and more importantly, the very reason that they were sent to that region during that ill-fated event of April 2004, was for their love to their country, the love for their family, and their sworn oath to defend America from any foe, past present and future.
Also, although the 1st Cavalry had no idea of the ambush upon their fates was to come, they did not die in vain. Not because the Shiite attack upon them was considered to be the first of hundreds of insurgent strikes to be laid upon American and allied troops for years to come, but because they were set up to an example of an unrelenting brand of honor and nationalism. The story is replete with a montage of stories of the families of these soldiers.
In no wise are they depicted as the victims of this war. Rather, the back-and-forth parry of the home front counterpart of the story solemnly depicts the heroism and sacrifice these soldiers have given: Mothers and children receiving word of a dead love one, families united under a sole hope that they will get home, constantly under fire of the news that is to come of their ultimate compromise.
Ture, Martha Raddatz’ language cloaked no violence nor censored no optimism on the survival of the cavalry, however it can be very well gleamed from the thesis of this sad tale that her message was not to provoke hatred against the war on terror, but rather to remind all persons, American or foreign, that it takes the death of only “one of us” to spark inspiration, if not disdain, against the evil forces that encroach up our basic right to freedom and happiness. What more could the modern day hero be called for?
Let us not forget the unmentioned historical backdrop that led to this event, that is 9-11. Since 2001, the United States of America has entitled this new brand of international conflict as the “war on terror”. The story of Sheenen and the company makes no mention of this kind of war. It reflects coyly the spilling of American blood on foreign soil not as a sting to American society and its status quo, but as a constant reminder to us all the value of freedom and security.
America was neither built through a peace race, nor through passive resolution. This great nation was built through the assertion against slavery, racisim, and to general extent terrorism. Why would people perceive the men and women of the cavalry as victims, you may ask? This is because is these sudden dark times where democracy and humanism was so prevalent for the past half century, a war this massive was unthinkable.
So massive was this war that it first had to hit home. In retrospect, when conflicts and wars were wagged for years that it came to be part of life, men who lost their lives were seen to be heroes. Such isn’t so at present. It is quite understandable why this is happening. After the declaration of independence more that three hundred years ago, it was apparent that the American thinking was geared towards providing every man, woman and child the pursuit of happiness.
This gave the right to every American, with great exceptions, not to be compelled to engage in to armed conflict that would endanger one’s life. To be massacred like the 1st cavalry was evokes confusion because ordinarily tragedy has no meaning. But I refuse to not put any meaning to the death of these men and women. If one simply looks at the bigger picture, and allows oneself to be more grounded and collected to what their deaths have brought about, then they automatically become heroes. Dying for a higher cause is heroic.
At the latter end of the story where the Texan families find recollection and strength in each other’s losses, the author notes the names of those who died, and with a shinning hope does what any other narrator of tragedies does: to recollect and beg the reader forgiveness for laying an account so telling, it leaves upon them a mark. The task was simple for these men and women: to reclaim order and spread the peace America wishes to establish throughout. And after a long, and very violent road home, and with their resting place as a foundation for more like them to come, they accomplished it.