Posted by: mutantpoodle | July 13, 2007

Iraq hits home, and home wants out

casket09I am naturally suspicious of anecdote journalism – largely because you can usually find five people to prove your point, and ignore the ten who prove the opposite.

But this pieceMidwest Towns Sour on War as Their Tolls Mount – in Saturday’s Washington Post rings true for two reasons.

First, the gut-wrenching toll from Iraq is all too real, and it is felt, disproportionately, in Midwestern towns like Tipton, Iowa. 239 soldiers from ten Midwestern states have been killed in Iraq in the past year – 20 victims a month of this tragic folly from that region alone.

Second, the nation’s support for American troops remaining in Iraq is clearly at a low, and dropping. It isn’t only happening on the coasts.

It happens wherever tragedy forces you to focus:

Dixie Pelzer remembers there were three of them, soldiers in uniform who came to the door at about a quarter to 10 one night in late May. She is Behrle’s mother, and she knew it was real — David had been killed by a roadside bomb. “Then it all just started,” said Pelzer, who works with student organizations at the University of Iowa.

The six weeks since have been a fog, she said, an initiation into a parallel world occupied by the families of 3,611 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq. The support of friends and strangers has been magnificent, but her son is still gone, buried on an Iowa hilltop where she likes to think he would have been happy.

Behrle, she said, did not join the military in high school to embrace a grand cause. He enlisted at age 18 because he liked the idea. He told his mother he would spend three years in uniform, then go to college.

“It’s not like he was a patriot, or political. It was just something he wanted to do,” Pelzer said quietly, speaking with a reporter for the first time. “He said, ‘It’s okay. I’ll be fine, Mom.’ ”

She wondered if he would be fine. It was 2005. She figured Iraq would be calmer by the time his unit deployed.

Like so many Tipton residents who saw the war delivered like an unwelcome package when the cortege passed, Pelzer realized that it took her son’s death for her to focus on the war.

“I don’t know that you can win,” she said of the chances of victory in Iraq. “But if you can’t accomplish what you need to accomplish, get them out of there. There’s been enough. One is too many.”

Sadly, one man needs to figure that out. That the mainstream media is starting to do so probably won’t help.

An election in 16 months just might do the trick.

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