Here’s the third thing I learned from an alleged al Qaeda bomb attack in Afghanistan:
War is everything Hollywood says it is; war is nothing like that.
We watched hulking B-52s bomb the tops off mountains for hours in the eastern Afghanistan desert, before someone tried to kill us by hurling a homemade bomb into our car.
The big bombs felt like they would shatter our eardrums. The little bomb, not so much.
It sounded like air going out of a balloon: “P-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f …”
The next thing we heard sounded like pebbles being sprinkled across the car roof.
It sounded so gentle, we didn’t know what it was ’til we described it to some military men who know their weapons — heavy and light.
They said it was gunfire, hard to tell which kind.
It’s a good thing no one told us this until much later, because we all thought we were under attack anyway. We just couldn’t figure — running away from the blast — what had happened.
I couldn’t run because that homemade bomb landed beneath me. I almost died, and then became permanently disabled as a result of the injuries.
Why am I bothering to write about this on the 10th anniversary of the attack?
Because I live in a country where war is mentioned casually.
‘Let’s have war with Syria! Let’s bomb the life out of Iran! Let’s go to war with ….’
Fill in the blanks. It’s as if someone was extending an invitation for tea.
I am writing about war to show that it’s not like a video game, and that the wounds of war are long-lasting (as a rehabilitation counselor, I’ve worked with dozens of vets, from the Vietnam era to current wars).
As we’ve discovered with the massacre this week, the costs of war are immeasurable.
I write to celebrate the heroism of those who serve when their country asks, and the families who sacrifice much, while waiting for their return. I’m grateful, and humbled, that many troops and military surgeons saved my life.
I write to caution those who never do the fighting — and rarely send their children into combat (Vice-President Joe Biden is an exception) — yet oh-so-easily demand more war.
I write, because compounds like draw-down and pull-out have renewed importance in America and Afghanistan this week.
Journalist takes long view of a decade after war.