Iraq Milbloggers Featured on History Channel

Veteran’s Day during a war is always a poignant holiday. It isn’t about shopping or drinking or looking forward to the future. It’s about death and maiming and a kind of everlasting psychological damage that those of us who have never been in combat can’t even begin to imagine. It’s about re-examining our priorities, reflecting on what’s happened and why. Maybe it gets to be about rededicating ourselves to ending something that should never have been started. We remember the ones who have died and fear for the ones still living in the middle of Hell.

 

It isn’t a celebratory time, and honoring it tends to be highly personal. I know folks who make a pilgrimage every Veteran’s Day to the Wall in Washington to stand in front of the names of their loved ones killed in Viet Nam, and maybe leave behind a fresh vase of flowers or a picture. Maybe they pray, maybe they don’t, but they always remember.

It can be difficult to figure out how to honor the day, the dead, the living, the sacrifice, the pain and the loss, the daily fear of the families, the dread of the knock at the door from someone in a uniform standing on your doorstep. Chris Missick, who was one of the pioneer milbloggers in Iraq a few years ago, pointed me via email to a unique form of remembrance by the media: a documentary by the History Channel on the soldiers who began blogging from Iraq and brought us, straight dope and no middleman, their experiences and thoughts as they fought the war we sent them to fight.

I haven’t seen the show – I don’t have cable and it isn’t online – so I’ll let Chris, who was interviewed for the show and provided some photographs to the filmmakers, give you his take.

Last night, after a meeting at the law school, I went over to my parents house to watch the History Channel special, ?Band of Bloggers.? 

I sat nervously, wondering what comments they would choose from the two hour interview I had participated in and what pictures they would show that I had contributed to the program.   With every segment, I was amazed at the quality of the production, the quantity of material they managed to fit into such short spans of time, and most of all, the strength of character of all the servicemembers they interviewed.  To say it was humbling to be sandwiched between interviews with people I look up to, people I consider real heroes, is an understatement.

As strange as it may sound, I feel a burden when I think about my deployment.  I feel like there were so many more ways I could have been useful, so many more ways I could have contributed.  The nature of my job was such that I was relatively safe and secure.  Communications need to be protected, and as a result, I never faced the terror or the terrorists like Colby.  But I guess that?s just one of the many reasons why his blog became so popular.  Rather than sitting behind the wire, he and so many others were pressing forward, risking their lives and limbs everyday, and then sharing those events with the world. 

“Colby” is Colby Buzzell, the infamous “CBFTW” of My War: Fear and Loathing in Iraq, the best of the milblogs, bar none. When he came home, he turned his blogposts into an astounding book (simply titled My War) that ought to be a Must-Read for everyone who wants to know what actually happens in Iraq. He’s also probably the best known milblogger of the war due to the press he got, particularly when the Army shut down his blog. Since he’s also featured in the documentary, I’m assuming it covers at least some of the military censorship that currently prevents milbloggers from expressing even mild criticism of the war or the administration that started it.

Chris, who wrote one of the earliest and most influential pro-war milblogs, A Line in the Sand, represents the other side of the coin. His blog was so gung-ho that I at first accused it of being a fake, an Army PR stunt. His reply was probably gentler than I deserved for jumping to a conclusion like that, and over the next few weeks we butted heads over the war. It was an interesting dialogue. Chris was unfailingly polite no matter how snarky I got, and I learned a lot about the motivations of the real volunteers – the ones who signed up out of conviction rather than a need to use the army as a way out of poverty or the trap of low-income kids, like Colby, who had very few options. He’s a good guy and, needless to say, I’m glad he’s back home and safe (and about to finish law school – good for him). I’m also glad he’s in this documentary – he deserves to be.

IAC, if you’re a blogger this show is is tailor-made to appeal to you on this particular day. Check it out.

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