Coming Home

March 20th, 2008

Jessica So it’s been five years, or 1825 days, or 43,800 hours, or — in terms the average American can better understand — roughly enough time to watch 87,600 episodes of “Friends.”

The War In Iraq — the one intended to depose Al Queda-supporting (oops!), weapons of mass destruction-toting (oops!) dictator Saddam Hussein — has cost American taxpayers $3T (that’s three trillion dollars).

Far worse, though, 3,992 American soldiers have died, 29, 314 have been injured, and an estimated 20% of the 1.6M Iraq War veterans returned from theater with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

You’ll recall that I opposed this war from the start. That said, I wanted to be wrong. Five years later, I hope we have the fortitude and focus to end it well, or at least well enough. My hopes are not high.

Earlier this week, I spent some time with eight young Iraq War veterans. The horrors they’ve seen is written across their faces, still they soldier on. The losses they’ve suffered — friends, limbs — mark their bodies and minds.

One young woman, 29-year-old Medical Service Corps officer Jessica McDermott, departed North Carolina for our three-day shoot just hours after learning that her grandmother had died. She fought through tears to tell her story, and the stories of those who could no longer tell theirs.

Today, if nothing else, my hopes are high for her, and all of her comrades.

Dear Mister Rogers

March 20th, 2008

Mister Rogers & Me - September 4, 2001Dear Mister Rogers,

My memory isn’t the best, but one moment I’ll never forget is meeting you.

It was September 4, 2001. I’d arrived on Nantucket just a few hours prior. I remember going for a run, then swimming in the bay at sunset. By the time you walked over from The Crooked House, there wasn’t a trace of sunlight to be found; the sun had fallen below the waves. The stars had yet to come out. It was completely and perfectly dark.

I was standing on the back porch, beer in hand, when I heard your unmistakable voice inquire, “Has the birthday boy arrived?”

I don’t remember what I said, or what happened next, but I remember exactly how I felt. For the first time in a long time, the increasing pressures of modern, accelerated adult life slipped away. For the first time in a long time, I felt like a little boy; wide-eyed, full of wonder, and 100% unique.

Please visit my “Making ‘Mister Rogers & Me'” blog to finish reading this post…