Allison Kilkenny: Unreported


Posted in Bush by allisonkilkenny on May 2, 2008

From 5 Years Since “Mission Accomplished”

Since those words, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and injured, while 3,900 US troops have been killed and tens of thousands more wounded. Earlier today, nine Iraqi civilians were killed and another twenty-six injured in a car bombing targeting a US patrol in Baghdad.

I was studying in Canterbury, England in March of 2003. I still remember sitting in a lecture hall with 100 British students when our tour’s English chaperon, Aragon (I swear), walked into the room and said, “I need to speak with all of the American students.”

Two hundred pairs of eyes set upon my row – the back row – where all the Americans clumped together like a cancer growth. I cringed. Everyone knew what was happening. America was invading Iraq. England would send troops in solidarity. I wondered if anyone in that lecture hall had a brother or sister in the British armed services.

We gathered just outside the lecture hall’s double doors. Aragon said we needed to sign up at the nearest American embassy in case outraged foreigners chased us back to the motherland.

I was amazed Aragon hadn’t struck any of us American scum. In fact, no one ever said an unkind word to me while I was in Europe in 2003. Well, except the Scottish guy who told me that we Americans “had 9/11 comin’ to us,” and the group of drunk Irishmen that would have jumped us in Dublin if Rachel hadn’t thought quick and yelled, “WE’RE CANADIANS!!!!!”…And then there was the time American Steve got his nose broken by an angry Englishman. Steve had overheard the man singing “Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,” and approached the stranger with his big American teeth and a Mid-Western “Hi, there!” Crack! Over.

Other than those three isolated cases of unusually aggressive behavior, Europeans were very kind to our motley crew of Americans. That’s what broke my heart the most — the kindness. Aragon was only concerned about our safety, and like most of the world, he understood that we Americans are not our government.

The next memory I have is standing in an Italian airport with my friend, Rachel, watching “Shock and Awe” on a television screen.

We were on our way to Venice because we were on break from school and it was the only trip Rachel and I could afford. We would camp just outside Venice and then spend the weekend on Murano, the tiny island in the Venetian lagoon where they blow glass.

A British BBC anchor was saying something about a lost American soldier. Al-Jazeera released footage of this poor bastard from Iowa wading through a Baghdad creek – clearly lost and afraid. Of course, I reminded myself, that poor bastard had probably just fire-bombed a whole damn city block. Of course, I reminded myself again, he was just following the orders of someone, who was following orders from someone, who was following orders.

This Italian dude next to me said to his friend in broken English, “That boy in trouble.” BBC kept showing footage of the explosions in Baghdad. It was all so horrific and loud. I couldn’t imagine what was happening on the ground, though I knew the bad guys would get away and the innocent would suffer.


All images from John Murphy For Congress

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