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Death of friends make war real

by Lindsey Rowland, Military Matters editor


Iraq may seem like a world away, the newspaper a flash of a world we don’t know, have never known, and will never know. The news is of a country in turmoil, a country incomprehensible or incomparable to anything we have ever experienced. It’s not that we are unpatriotic or even unsupportive. It’s just that the war seems so surreal.

Until the face in your newspaper looks back at you with eyes you actually know, ones you have seen up close. With a face you would know anywhere: the face of Nainoa Hoe. And somehow the 27 dead or the two men killed in the car bomb become one person, one person who lived and breathed, one person you knew. One person you ran with, one person you went to school with, one person you looked up to. And suddenly Iraq, 2,000 miles away, touches your world closer than you ever thought possible. The losses become your personal grief. And you are overwhelmed with the closeness of this war, and your daily paper makes you stop this time for more than a second and drop to your knees.


The face you haven’t seen in years, but suddenly you are flooded with those memories that seem to have just passed. You hear his voice and can still mimic his speech and words. And you wonder what has made him come home before his leave. Why has he come home before his men?

And then you read the headlines, pretty close to the ones they write everyday, but today they seem bolder, stronger, and heavier. They seem to have been printed bigger than any other day before.

And the name you know: 2nd LT Nainoa Hoe. A name you have known, but never dreamed you would see again like this, not in this way. This wasn’t the way it was suppose to happen. You look away, hoping it was a bad dream. Your eyes look back again and see that it really is him. And it almost hurts more the second time, because you have affirmed in your mind his death is real.

At this point there is no way to be left untouched, there is no way to just read the numbers, or hear about the casualties. Iraq seems so much closer. The whole thing now has a name, a face, a voice, and a dream. And somehow one becomes so much bigger than 27.

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