As a supplement to Bill Kauffman’s excellent “An Empire of Widows and Orphans,” the posting of which at Hit & Run sparked a conflagration of stunning comparisons between moms and dads going to war in Iraq and moms and dads commuting to the office, I offer this article from Stars & Stripes:
AL KUT, IRAQ — Glued to the stock of Army Sgt. Benjamin Kaye’s M-16 is a photograph of his 10-month-old daughter, Brittany.
She has blond hair, blue eyes … and spina bifida, a condition in which her spinal cord is underdeveloped.
“I could have stayed home but I decided to do my duty and deploy,” said Kaye, a nuclear power plant engineer whose Army Reserve unit was activated in December.
Before the war began, Brittany’s condition worsened. Kaye’s wife took the baby from their Buffalo, N.Y., home and went to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. There Brittany had spinal surgery that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors do not know if she will ever walk.
A Red Cross letter arrived in February and Kaye completed the form to return home. But his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Holshek, denied the request. Despite more queries to return home, intervention by the Red Cross and an end to major combat, Kaye remained in Iraq.
“I would no longer recommend anyone join the Army,” said Kaye, who still has three years’ Reserve duty left. “My commander simply refused to care.”
Pay special attention to that first sentence, and make sure you check out the surreal photo that accompanies the article. Child’s picture on stock of M-16 = child’s picture on desk. Militarism = normalcy.