Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Five Years

Five years ago, I was sitting at my desk at the Leonard Graphic, sticking labels on newspapers that had just come back from the printer. There were more than 1,000 newspapers that needed addressing, and the task was divided between myself and Betsy. We were watching a small black and white television, and we had the radio on. Talk had been constant that the U.S. would invade Iraq, and sure enough, it had happened earlier that morning. Leonard was a small town. The precinct commissioner, in fact, I think had three kids in active military. Every graduation had at least a handful of kids that enlisted as well, and that's saying quite a bit when you consider the graduating classes were downright lilliputian. But as March 19 came and went, the flags and the yellow ribbons unfurled. In those early days, it seemed that even with those niggling doubts, we were on the side of the righteous - especially in such a small town that wore its God and country so close to its heart. But I also remember March 21, when the U.S. unleashed its so called "shock and awe." Three of us stood in the newsroom, in stunned silence, listening as the missiles crashed around the reporter on the television and the radio. The sound reverberated even after we finally turned it off. But what strikes me now is that at the time, it seemed so easy. Watching the statue of Saddam topple, easy, and an obvious harbinger of democracy, right? It seems almost charmingly naive, now, to look at how sure nearly everyone was that bringing democracy to Iraq was the right thing to do, and therefore would indeed be easy. And here we are, five years later.