There can be no mistake that our country has pivoted so hard that it has left many apoplectic with rage, shock, and horror.  I say unto you, the silent, that you have a very important choice ahead of you.  More on that later though.   However, for a large cross-section of demographics, this pivot has shown us the darkest nature of friends, family, and fellow Americans.  What can we expect from them?

Let me tell you a story that the history of our 21st Century will gloss over with statistics or soothing rhetoric. It was 2006 in Iraq, when I landed to support the 5th Special Forces Group (A) as its Tactical Psychological Operations detachment commander and junior staff planner.  I was about ready to pin on major and was still awash in the glory that young men seek in war.  We were fighting the righteous war, spreading democracy, and bringing enlightenment to the savages, so to speak.  I was a Soldier, as the book goes, once and young.

Since so many of us did not speak Arabic or any of the local languages, we contracted for interpreters in order for us to create psychological operations products that could be used to help our supported units prosecute the conflict and hopefully end the insurgency/terrorist activities in the country.  We had two women working with us to interpret enemy propaganda and translate our approved products into Arabic.  One of the ladies was a ex-pat from Chicago, who was Druze, and pretty extroverted –I believe her name was Fatima or the equivalent.  The other was named Almurahna (best spelling) and was almost exactly the opposite of her fellow: rather tallish, willow thin, raven-haired, angular features, and the most beautiful, but sad eyes that I have ever seen.

Almuhrana was Sunni Muslim, but moderate.  She wore stylish European clothes, make-up, and didn’t invoke Allah or Muhammad at every chance.  I would often see her walking alone at dusk along the camp roads.  Head down and slowly.  It was as if she bore the weight of the world upon her shoulders.  I silently nick-named her the saddest woman in the world.  I was in hindsight, a real jerk.  Thankfully, I never said that to her.

During the period of time that I was there, like any young man, I became rather infatuated with the pretty woman, who spoke English with a slight English accent, but perfectly none-the-less.  We got to know each other a little better, but she was always reserved and I was always aware of my place.  She mentioned that she was actually born in America, but now, I forgot where she said, so my apologies for the ensuing vagaries.  However, her father had destroyed all their documentation as the insurgency grew because he did not want to chance her getting caught and killed as an American.  She desperately wanted to go to America, so I took to calling hospitals in the locality, where she said that she had grown up, but the internet wasn’t that great back then and I was in Iraq.  Also, she said that she couldn’t be certain that she was born in or around where she said that she had memories or from where her father had spoken.

It was right around then, where I got a quick education on the realities of life.

I asked her as to why she didn’t just ask her father.  I should have known from the look Fatima gave me that I had asked the wrong question.  Almurahna just replied that she couldn’t and excused herself from the table where we had all been eating lunch.

Once she was gone, Fatima told me that Almuhrana’s father was dead.  A couple of years prior to me arriving in country, Fatima and her family, who lived near the primarily Shia dominated An Najaf, were pulled from the home one night, by their long-time neighbors, dumped onto street, and shot.  Almuhrana was the sole survivor, albeit one, who was shot seven times by an AK-47.

Her neighbors, who knew the family, worked alongside the family, who chatted with and probably shared meals with them, dragged them out of their homes, shot them, and left them for dead in the gutters.  While it was never mentioned, I could only surmise that rape had preceded the shootings –maybe preceded.

A million people’s deaths are a statistic and hard to fathom, one person, especially one, whom you know, is a tragedy.  A tragedy of the highest order.

I don’t know if she made it to the US.  There was a lot of war left after I rotated back state-side.  I would like to think that she did.

Neighbors, friends, companions…