With the fifth anniversary of the war upon us, I would like to share some memories.

A week into my senior year of high school, two airplanes smashed into the World Trade Center, bringing the buildings down. A third airplane smashed into the side of the Pentagon. And a forth crash landed into the Pennsylvania countryside. Almost 3,000 people died that day. I remember walking through my halls and past a “Wall of Fame”. On this wall, the school placed portraits of alumni who had died while serving their community. There were pictures of Vietnam-era soldiers, community police officers and fire fighters and one of the just 253 American soldiers to have died in the Persian Gulf War. I remember thinking, “there will be more here.”

I remember the hopelessness I felt as I graduated from high school nearly 9 months later and seeing classmates join the military to serve their injured country.

I remember the Bush administration telling story after story and changing facts in order to convince the American People to go to war.

I remember asking my Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, “Do you actually believe we will be greeted as heroes when we get there?” And I remember him saying to me, “They will be cheering and baking us apple pies.”

I remember how shocked and awed I felt when, five years ago today, the bombs started falling. And I remember thinking how much Baghdad at night looked like my hometown at night.

I remember how heartbroken I felt when a week later, a member of my community, Cpl. Jose A. Garibay died in Iraq. And while he wasn’t placed on my school’s Wall of Fame (his picture belongs to my cross town rival), he grew up where I grew up. And he probably shared many of the same memories I still get to relive.

Today, I could talk about all the lies we were told. I could talk about how our nation has lost so many resources. But I think those are better saved for other days.

Today, I remember Cpl. Jose A. Garibay and the nearly 4,000 other military members who have lost their lives in Iraq. I remember the countless communities who have been soiled because they have lost a young soul.

Young people just like me are fighting in Iraq. They are sent off to protect the land. But the callous and culturally insensitive way our government planned to protect the land did not make it easy for the young people in Iraq. They are following orders. But these orders are flawed. And those orders cause a whole generation–My generation—to lose their souls. Today, there is no cause to celebrate the anniversary. Today, there are only reasons to mourn.

About the Author
Alex Winnett

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