Commentary: War Documentary Resonates On Memorial Day


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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, May 29, 2006
I'm no innocent to war stories. During World War II, my uncle Elm Halprin died in Italy when his plane went down, and Francis Jackson, my husband’s uncle, was killed when the USS Lexington was attacked. Members of my mother’s family perished in the Holocaust.
 
And, I was raised on TV shows about war like M*A*S*H, but I was both devastated and riveted by the real-life images of blown up legs, hands and eyes in HBO's documentary about the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq.
 
My husband and son left the room because the images were so vivid. The grim determination of the doctors and nurses as they removed limbs injured beyond repair from American soldiers and Iraqi citizens was hard to bear.
 
But I couldn’t not look because this is real. Media coverage of military coffins is nothing compared to the shot of the shrapnel lodged behind the eye of the stoic Iowa soldier who wanted to return to combat.
 
I held my breath as a medical team performed CPR on a young man who bled to death from the hole where his right leg used to be. They didn't want to stop their resuscitation efforts; a young doctor asked if someone had another suggestion. I have one – on this Memorial Day, let’s pray for peace.