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What it's like to lose a son in the Iraq war.
June 12, 2006 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Never Coming Home is about the families of five young men killed in Iraq. Slate presents a short documentary that focuses on the bereavement of the parents, or in one case, a brother. This portrait of grief and sacrifice is brought to life through the use of still photography and the recorded voices of family members.
posted by ND¢ (24 comments total)

 
I almost posted this myself. It's very good and very sad. In the second-day story, the mother says some pretty outrageous things, things that would normally send me over the edge. I had to keep telling myself, "She lost her kid."
posted by veggieboy at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2006


I personally think it's a shame they didn't interview one of the hundred thousand Iraqi mothers and fathers just to counterbalance the story.

Being several thousand miles away from what's happening insulates people to the daily pain and suffering that the civilians under occupation must deal with. Whether the war is right or wrong, empathy with those dealing with it first hand would surely be a good thing.
posted by longbaugh at 10:49 AM on June 12, 2006


Profound and sad. Thank you for the post NDcent. Beautifully made documentary.
posted by nickyskye at 10:50 AM on June 12, 2006


What longbaugh said. And while the number is much smaller, it would have been interesting to hear from the parents who've lost a daughter.

But this is still really powerful and well done.
posted by bardic at 10:54 AM on June 12, 2006


Never Coming Home is about the families of five young men killed in Iraq.

For some reason my initial interpretation of that sentence was that it was about the families of dead Iraqi civilians. Hey, I thought, that sounds pretty interesting, some insight into the other side of....

Oh. Nope, it's about us again. Not that it isn't still powerful, or sad, or worthwhile, but for a moment I thought it was something new.
posted by gurple at 11:15 AM on June 12, 2006


Gurple, it's America - it's always about us!
posted by agregoli at 11:58 AM on June 12, 2006


I think you all are being a little unfair. Yes, it is true that loss of Iraqi life is equally regrettable (to me at least) as American life, but should it really be neccessary that every acknowledgement of American losses be accompanied by a notation of regret of loss of Iraqi's. The sentiment is certainly admirable on a certain level, but I think the sniping is unneccesary and banal.
posted by jonmc at 12:15 PM on June 12, 2006


Shrug. It would be nice to see more stories about Iraqi causalties. The amount of news stories of Americans injured or killed that I have been exposed to compared to the Iraqis is really striking. It makes me sad that news outlets appear to care so little about Iraqi casualties. My reaction happened to be the same as gurple's.

No one said that every story on American soldiers hurt or killed had to be accompanied by anything.
posted by agregoli at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2006


Actually I think the more stories like this the better, because Americans are most appalled when it's Americans dying, and sufficiently appalled Americans are necessary before it's going to get any better.

But I think there's something in the wording there that made a number of us think initially that it was about Iraqis. And, yeah, I think that'd be more interesting.
posted by gurple at 12:50 PM on June 12, 2006


Not explicitly, no. But it was your main criticism of the piece, which implies that it would be better if it gave equal time to Iraqi deaths. Which I think is not neccessarily true.

As far as news coverage goes, I imagine Canadian, British, and Iraqi news coverage probably concentrates more on casualties from their respective countries as well. That's the nature of the beast.
posted by jonmc at 12:51 PM on June 12, 2006


And, yeah, I think that'd be more interesting.

Attempts have been made in that vein, albeit in other wars.

Vietnam Veteran author W.D. Erhart wrote a book where he returned to Vietnam and conversed with Vietnamese veterans of the same conflict, ARVN, VC, and NVA alike and found that (along with his fellow American veterans) they were the only people he could talk honestly about the war with and be understood. He wrote a book on the trip and his findings.
posted by jonmc at 12:56 PM on June 12, 2006


Not explicitly, no. But it was your main criticism of the piece, which implies that it would be better if it gave equal time to Iraqi deaths. Which I think is not neccessarily true.

That's an implication only you made - what I took from his comment and further comment, and I agree with, is that he and I personally would have been more interested if it hadn't been another piece about American causalties and was instead about Iraqis. Not, as you suggest, that the piece included some other story besides what it does.

As far as news coverage goes, I imagine Canadian, British, and Iraqi news coverage probably concentrates more on casualties from their respective countries as well. That's the nature of the beast.

Well, duh. Which is why it would be nice to hear more stories from the other side of things.

I have nothing against this article or this post. It's a fine article. But I too would be more interested in more from the Iraqi side of things.
posted by agregoli at 1:03 PM on June 12, 2006


jonmc - it's not sniping, at least from myself at any rate. As someone living outside the USA I don't really have much of an idea how Iraqi deaths are presented in the US media. I don't know if it's big news if there is a car bomb only if some US soldier is injured or not. From my reading of several online news sources I feel that the death of Iraqis is barely covered in the news and I think this is clearly a bad thing (and I know you understand this). I could be wrong but I don't think there is anything wrong with putting a human face on the suffering caused as a result of our actions in Iraq.

on preview - certainly the Metro newspaper (free on public transport) mentions British casualties right next to Iraqi ones any time there is a car bomb.
posted by longbaugh at 1:08 PM on June 12, 2006


I could be wrong but I don't think there is anything wrong with putting a human face on the suffering caused as a result of our actions in Iraq.

Me either. But I just wonder whether a documentary about American casualties would be the best place and whether it should have been the immediate response in the thread. But apologies for giving the impression that I was assuming ill intent. It was more a critique of the impression the comments might leave on people.
posted by jonmc at 1:21 PM on June 12, 2006


But I just wonder whether a documentary about American casualties would be the best place and whether it should have been the immediate response in the thread.

Again, apologies if I'm putting words in anyone's mouth, but as I already said, I don't think I or anyone else was at all suggesting that there be a companion piece or anything added into this article about Iraqi casualties. You seem to be the one inferring that we wanted that.
posted by agregoli at 1:32 PM on June 12, 2006


You seem to be the one inferring that we wanted that.

Again, that was because that particular response was so immediate. And for the record, I would be interested to see a similar piece on Iraqi casualties. I guess the quickness and emphaticness of that response just bothered me for some reason.
posted by jonmc at 1:36 PM on June 12, 2006


It was just a response in a thread to me.

It wouldn't have bothered you if it had happened 100 posts later? I'm afraid I don't see the difference if the opinion is expressed now or later. The comments were appropriate, nothing nasty was said.

Shrug.
posted by agregoli at 1:49 PM on June 12, 2006


Well said longbaugh.
American casualties aren’t treated at all in the press. Certainly in the “he was a hero” category, but other than local papers I don’t see much focus on the families and details.

No real sense of loss in the media.
It’s not about us, it’s about U.S.

This is a bit more touching. Thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:57 PM on June 12, 2006


Meanwhile , Humvee roll over and kill passenger. Not one, many ! Because of the additional armor hastly added to offer some protection.

Except that such armor is useless, but I doubt they realized that better armored vehicles from italian mission didn't protect the soldiers from IED shock wave effects. Hey but who cares, it's not like you are in Iraq.
posted by elpapacito at 4:10 PM on June 12, 2006


Yes, its tragic, your child died. But wars aren't fought and won by fatherless and motherless men and women. I voluntered to be here right now, its a choice I and the other thousands of military men and women made. Yes, getting blown up sucks, my friends get blown up almost daily running convoys (as I will a few times before I leave), and can only live to talk about it because of the useless "roll over armor" (those who have argued for the extra body armor have obviously never had to wear that crap in 120 degree heat). I don't care whose face you try to put on it and what story you try to spin, the Iraqis are better off now that Saddam is gone. I see improvement here day to day, houses being rebuilt, more trucks running goods north to Kuwait, and Iraqis building up the new Iraq. Every death is tragic, your only hope is that something positive comes of it. Thats what we're trying to accomplish here every day in Iraq. And be aware, there are a lot of us that don't necessarily come from military families... they don't understand the willingness to sacrifice a normal life to do what we do, so they certainly don't understand when one of us makes the ultimate sacrifice.
posted by Logboy at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2006


Ahem... Is a post about people's dead children really the best place to be having an argument guys? You're both better than that.
posted by longbaugh at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2006


[a few comments removed, take derails to metatalk or get a room]
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 AM on June 13, 2006


fair enough, longbaugh. out of respect for the dead, I'll drop it
posted by jonmc at 7:45 AM on June 13, 2006


Oh let me tear logboy post into what it is, the most offensive demagoguery on military in a while ! Actually it is squarely aimed at the families and that makes me even more sick, except that I get over sickness, disregard the appeals not to debate and express my opinion.
Yes, its tragic, your child died. But wars aren't fought and won by fatherless and motherless men and women.
Oh really ? Don't tell me ! Ahh but there is no donught without flour and water ! REALLY ? Actually soldiers die because they are killed. The difference being, soldier wouldn't probably be death if he wasn't in Iraq. Who organized the war he joined into ? Surely not him.

I voluntered to be here right now, its a choice I and the other thousands of military men and women made.

Notice that now he changed to "I" ..I can't attack a poor hero soldier can I ? So let's see how it sounds now
He voluntered to be here right now, its a choice He and the other thousands of military men and women made.
Certainly, so what ? Point being ? That's just stating the obvious, one can't do anything without deciding to do it. You want to put all the responsability of the world on their should because they choose one simple thing ? That's ridicolous.
Yes, getting blown up sucks, my friends get blown up almost daily
How bad, it happens during wars. Don't want that ? Don't join a war.
an only live to talk about it because of the useless "roll over armor" (those who have argued for the extra body armor have obviously never had to wear that crap in 120 degree heat
But body armor doesn't make your vehicle capsize. Maybe if they gave you proper equipement lilke, for instance, air conditioned vehicles one could wear the armor. Oh but god forbid it requires nuclear scientist to anticipate need for air conditioning in a friggin desert ! Uhhh rocket science, isn't it ? Where the fuck are the billions spent in military equipement that is useless like an Hummer in a desert with IED exploding ? Oh but forget it, some think brainwashed grunts will see this a further proof that they are tough !
the Iraqis are better off now that Saddam is gone
That's most probably true ; except that a full scale military invasion isn't the only method to overturn a dictator. Ceauşescu was overruled by his own people and he was no less horrible then Saddamn, if not worse. Point being thousand of lives could have been saved, but somebody wanted a strong military presence in the middle east.
Every death is tragic, your only hope is that something positive comes of it.
That's utterly insane. Death doesn't restrict nobody to just hoping something good will come of it, that would be like throwing precious resources at a problem hoping that something good will come. One doesn't take risks blindly, one plans for risks ; heroism must be unusual, because constant sacrifice implies very bad planning. We must _forget_ about sending people to win wars, and people must refuse being used a tools of policy putting their life at immense risk.
there are a lot of us that don't necessarily come from military families... they don't understand the willingness to sacrifice a normal life to do what we do
They don't understand because they don't live heroic delusions. Sacrificing life isn't a sane behavior unless there is absolutely no way to avoid it , because it goes directly against instinct of self-conservation. It's -insanity- no matter how "noble" the end. A sane approach is that of avoiding ultimate sacrifice, which isn't avoiding the risk : risk can't be avoided, but can be handled rationally. Only completely unexpected events may warrant putting enormous risk on soldiers life.
posted by elpapacito at 4:58 AM on June 14, 2006


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