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Iraq War

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Friday-January 16, 2004- 4:00p.m: I was watching 'Oprah' and a particular story struck me. It was about these young brides in India who were being burned alive by their husbands because they have become a burden. Before these women are married off, their husbands receive dowries from the bride's family, when the family can no longer meet up with his demands-he sets his wife on fire, in hopes of her dying, and he will eventually marry another bride and obtain more dowry. These women are shun from society and are nothing but worthless beings-they become silent voiceless shadows. This happens to thousands of women everyday. It is the power behind such stories that makes me ponder and become more aware about this world. Similarly the literature of Vietnam has been an eye opener and a gravedigger, opening up my eyes to what happened in Nam and exposing the bones left behind in the stories. It has given me another view of the Iraq War. Human nature can be hard to alter; whether it's a soldier from Vietnam or a soldier involved in Iraq they share a similar state of mind.

In The Things They Carried Tim O' Brien describes the 'Night Life' of the soldiers. In particular there is a story about the gradual mental break down of Rat Kiley. "He couldn't sleep during the hot day light hours; he couldn't cope with the nights." (p.222) As time progressed the war was definitely getting to him: "the days aren't so bad, but at night the pictures get to be a bitch. I start seeing my own body. Chunks of myselfÐ'...I can see the goddamn bugs chewing tunnels through meÐ''s too much. I can't keep seeing myself dead."(p.223) In the end the only way for Kiley to escape was to shoot himself in the leg and get picked up by the choppers. The effect of war is no different on the mentality of a soldier serving in Iraq. The war slowly consumes the mind, body, and most deadly the soul. Once it starts to eat away it leaves a permanent scar.

When the war starts to eat away the soul, many times soldiers resort to committing suicide. According to a New York Times article published on January 15, 2004 --'U.S. Soldiers' Suicide Rate Is Up in Iraq.' "U.S. soldiers in Iraq are killing themselves at a high rate despite the work of special teams sent to help troops deal with combat stress, the Pentagon's top doctor said Wednesday." As a soldier involved in war, stress is coming from every direction. There is stress on the combat fields, from comrades, anti-American Iraqis and on a larger scale the United States of America and its citizens. In addition to stress there is fear of the uncertain: when will it be time to go home or better yet when will I die? Such mounting psychological stress and conflict within oneself can only lead to suicide.

As soldiers begin to witness the death and dying of their comrades day in and day out, their minds will naturally wander to death consuming them as well. Never has death felt so up-close and real until you witness it in front of your very eyes. In the sarcastic song "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die rag" by Country Joe MacDonald and the Fish it expresses the idea of death and raises the



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