Topic: Reflections

Afghan Peace Process Puts Life in Limbo for Generations of U.S. Allies, Former U.S. Interpreters

“My scarred body represents just a small sacrifice for our country, a country we have built without the Taliban,” said the father of a U.S. interpreter.

Baseball Games in Tokyo and a White House Tour—“I Bet It Never Smells Like Fart in There”

When the Secret Service let a member of the Air Force into the vice president’s vehicle, he thought to himself, “I bet it never smells like fart in there.”
Nathan Lowry says he attempted to practice his Arabic with anyone willing to listen during his first deployment, including this hefty Barbary macaque. Photo courtesy of Nathan Lowry.

To Prepare for War, Dubbed Disney Classics and a Detour to the “Wild West”

“Guess it’s time to find The Lion King in Pashto.” A Marine studies Disney classics in Arabic to prepare for the Iraq war only to be sent to Afghanistan.

Care Packages a Powerful Symbol of the Military-Civilian Divide

Many care packages included notes calling troops “heroes,” and gratitude for “protecting America’s freedom.” These, to many of us, rang hollow.

“The Distance Between You Grows”—the Many Difficult Truths of Military Family Homecomings

Back-to-back deployments and explosions were “a recipe for disaster,” writes a military spouse. “For my family, reintegration lasted years.”

“I Hope She’s Scarred for Life” — Recalling My Time as a Blackwater Mercenary

Blackwater employees were “integral” to rebuilding Iraq, but with limited oversight, contractors had “no ethical obligation” to the country’s citizens.
Two voters in Kirkuk in Iraq’s first election of a democratic government since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 display their ink-stained fingers in 2005. Photo courtesy of the Defense Department.

“I Still Find Hope”—Purple Fingers, Steel Rain, and Getting “Messy” in a Combat Zone

Service members have voted by mail since World War II. “My nation trusted me,” writes Joshua Manning, who cast ballots while deployed to several countries.
Portrait of a woman Triptych, by Artist Steve Albert

A Calling Through Art, Decades After Choosing Not to Serve

“My name should be on that wall.” A civilian reflects on choosing not to join the military during the Vietnam War and his journey to create art about war.
A Marine Corps weapons company section sets up their mortar to take communist positions under fire near Chosin Reservoir. Photo by Katie Lange, courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

“War Never Changes”—a Marine, a “Hardcore Warrior,” and a Connection Across Generations in Uniform

A World War II soldier and a Marine walk into a bar. Over drinks, the two veterans discuss how to truly return home after war: Never stop serving others.