The war in Iraq is now one of the nation’s longest conflicts. As far as affecting our day-to-day lives, it may well be one of our most invisible.
For those who don’t have a loved one serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s easy to go through a day without giving a thought to the dangers of combat.
The war is the subject of incessant political debate.
But what the soldiers and sailors endure isn’t brought up much by those pro or con.
Even in the newsroom, as we’re inundated with headlines about car bombs and IEDs, our troops are barely seen in photos that flash by quickly on a computer screen.
When word of a Tucson soldier’s death in combat comes in, our reporters and editors have a sadly too-practiced drill: use Google and public records to search for more information. Try to contact the grieving family. Comb our archives for stories and photos about the deceased.
We jump into action, finding facts, trying to tell a soldier’s story.
There isn’t much time for reflection. Thinking too much can cloud the mind, and making errors when reporting on a fallen soldier is something we just can’t do.
Early Friday, we were informed that Chief Warrant Officer Robert C. Hammett was killed in Baghdad June 24.
Department of Defense press releases are as terse and short as you could imagine. Not much beyond name, rank, unit and a date that shouldn’t be.
As I write, we’re still reporting on Hammett. Some events are exciting to report. Some are challenging. Some can become painful.
The Citizen’s list of troops with southern Arizona ties killed in Iraq and Afghanistan now stands at 36.
We’ve reported on these men and women, their Tucson ties, their families, their accomplishments. We’ve done our best to honor their memories.
But there are some stories we wish we didn’t have to tell. I’d rather CWO Hammett were safe at home with his family.
Watching the skies
Just a couple of days after the traditional Dia de San Juan onset of the monsoon, and not too long after the new, official start June 15, rain finally burst from the afternoon clouds.
Gawkers across Tucson turned their faces skyward to catch a few raindrops on their brows, or less poetically, ran across parking lots to roll up their car windows, getting drenched.
Downtown underpasses filled with runoff, and the usual caravan of fools tried to navigate the intersection of roadways and running washes.
It doesn’t matter how high-tech your navigation system is if you’re being swept along by the current.
It’s not called the “stupid motorist law” for nothing.
“This one goes to eleven”
Former Wildcat basketball guard Jerryd Bayless was drafted by the Indiana Pacers, who agreed to trade him to Portland Trailblazers almost immediately, even as he was still wearing a Pacers hat.
Bayless didn’t seem all that happy to fall out of the top 10. I’d be happy if I could ever sink a free throw.
Not justified by faith alone
Another eternal verity of summer: the Chicago Cubs are setting their loyal fans up for another disappointment.
They lead their division and have the best winning percentage in all of baseball. The denizens of the Cubby Bear bar are whispering about completing a certain special trip for the first time since 1908.
To avoid any sort of jinx, I’m not allowing myself to watch an entire game. An inning here or there, OK. But who wants to purposefully, willfully even, set themselves up for disappointment?
Oh ye of little faith, you say? We’ll see how it works out. I’ll keep half an eye on the TV this weekend.
7 words you shouldn’t say
Comic genius George Carlin dead at 71.
The man who demonstrated that profanity needn’t be vulgar, that cursing needn’t be coarse, died Sunday night.
Carlin held a mirror up to a culture obsessed with the lewd and scurrilous, asking if we liked what we saw.
His classic riff about the seven words you can’t say on television can still draw a laugh, not for the shock value of the rhythmic incantation of “obscenities” (HBO’s seen to that), but for the absolute glee with which Carlin pointed out our hypocrisies.
In elevating swearing beyond an art form to a near-religious ceremony, Carlin had the ability to shake his audiences out of their daily rituals, if only for a moment.
Better to be shaken by a laugh than a tear.