Monday, July 21, 2008

The Men and Women who Serve

I have been thinking about our soldiers today.

It’s strange how seldom I do… I remember when NPR was running a daily piece of people who died in 9/11… that piece really made real the human connection – and the vastness of the tragedy involved in this time in this country.

This morning I received, as an editor, some stunning poems from a soldier who served in Afghanistan.

I did a quick search for Afghanistan and oil. On May 8 of 1928 the US acquired Afghanistan oil. In 1960 the Soviets did. I’m seeing a piece of history fall into place… a part of a map – a part of the cold war map. I didn’t know that the US was involved in foreign oil in 1928.

Sometimes I think of little mini-series I’d like to do – I’d like to dedicate this week to the men and women who serve. The boys and girls. The husbands and children. The people.

This morning in the Boston Globe:
By Farah Stockman
Globe Staff / June 21, 2008

WASHINGTON - US soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq's oil infrastructure became ill after exposure to a highly toxic chemical at the plant, witnesses testified at a Democratic Policy Committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill.

"These soldiers were bleeding from the nose, spitting blood," said Danny Langford, an equipment technician from Texas brought to work at the Qarmat Ali Water treatment plant in 2003. "They were sick."

"Hundreds of American soldiers at this site were contaminated" while guarding the plant, Langford said, including members of the Indiana National Guard.

Langford is one of nine Americans who accuse KBR, the lead contractor on the Qarmat Ali project and one of the largest defense contractors in Iraq, of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an orange, sandlike chemical that is a potentially lethal carcinogen. Specialists say even short-term exposure to the chemical can cause cancer, depress an individual's immune system, attack the liver, and cause other ailments.

[as a side note -- can people be contaminated? I suppose -- but here's the first definition I found on the web:
means the presence or the reasonably anticipated presence of blood or other potentially infectious materials on an item or surface.]

View from Section 8
Arlington National Cemetery

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