An aging reporter ruminates on covering the military over two decades
It’s time for your friend and humble narrator to have a mid-life crisis. Should I, for example, post a video of myself doing the 22 Pushup Challenge whilst clad only in a thong? Probably not.
On Sunday, this reporter turns 40, the pinnacle of midlife. It’s a moment where God looks you in the eye and says: “It’s all downhill from here. From diapers you came and to diapers you will soon return.”
For nearly half of my life, I’ve covered the military: First as a local reporter in Easton, Pennsylvania, and then full time in Washington, D.C. In that time, U.S. troops have been stuck in a never-ending nightmare of wars without end, made all the worse by an indifferent Congress, which ceded any authority it had over the use of military force in 2001 and never looked back.
If wisdom comes with age, then one thing this reporter has learned from covering troops for years is this: There are no turning points. That means anyone who claims Afghanistan has “turned the corner” or “a dark and painful era” in Iraqi history has ended either doesn’t grasp the nature of the post 9/11 wars or is too afraid of failure to tell the truth.
When U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein, my assignment was to observe the family of a service member deployed to Iraq as they watched President George W. Bush’s television address, in which he proclaimed, “All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.”
They didn’t, but I was naïve enough at the time to hope things would get better.
Back when I was a teenager, my father told me about the time he wrote a similar story as a reporter during the Vietnam War. He was with the family of a service member …read more
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