Friday, January 16, 2009

Iraqi Kids And Soldiers

There are plenty of horrifying videos of war on YouTube. The worst of them are of children suffering. All the footage is real, terrifying, and utterly heart-breaking.

Videos of soldiers firing guns and missiles, as well as behaving badly or stupidly are plentiful. And then, there are these kinds of videos that give hope and are full of light. Even in war - person to person - on the ground - there are many random acts of love, compassion and kindness even between "enemies".

The nobility and compassion of civilized soldiers does deserve mention. When German towns and villages where taken during WWII, women always hoped for British and American soldiers. It meant they were not going to get raped and tortured. The greatest relief to a German woman - as told to me by my grandmother - was the sight of African American soldiers. As soon as my grandmother spotted a black face in the distance, she would leave the caves she and the villagers were hiding in and waive her white flag to let them know the village was surrendering. She was often the only one who spoke English who could explain how much food there was, how many women were in labor, and whatever else seemed important.

This video represents the images in my mind I grew up with from my grandmother's stories of American soldiers - their kindness and compassion, their humor, their professional conduct without rage and insane violence. Men you could count on and trust - even when they were "officially" your enemies. Their mission then, as in Iraq today, was freedom and a better life for the German people which they achieved. Without whitewashing all the other reasons countries go to war for, or the atrocities that happen during all wars by soldiers from all countries, the way the soldiers are behaving in this video is heartwarming. When there is war - it matters a great deal how a soldier conducts himself. Women and children are watching, and the stories live on long after the wars are done.

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