Thin Line

John Bear
3 min read
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A Soldier’s Words– Television news usually cuts to the talking heads whenever our leader lets us know just how he is going to make things worse.

Local TV news has the advantage of being able to track down locals involved in international debacles such as the Iraq war … even though they seldom do. Therefore, kudos to KRQE Channel 13 for their coverage of the Bush speech on Jan. 10, where they did just that.

El Presidente let the country know that he will escalate U.S. involvement in the Iraq war to the tune of 22,000 additional troops.

I watched the speech, paying only mild attention as I have learned to stop listening to Dubya mercilessly slaughter my mother tongue–and because I’d already heard about the "plan" he was unveiling.

Later that night I was flipping through the channels and settled on KRQE’s 10 o’clock broadcast. There was the predictable coverage of the speech, standard news fare. But then the station switched gears and featured an actual soldier and his family.

PFC Matthew Gallegos was home on a two-week R and R from the fertile crescent and had watched the speech with his family. He looked tired, and if anyone deserves to look tired, it’s a soldier on a two-week leave.

He said he didn’t think Bush’s plan would work, that Iraq "had been that way" for thousands of years and nothing we do will change that. He said he didn’t know how Bush’s new plan would affect him. Gallegos’ father, Steve, also chimed in and offered the same grim assessment.

It was refreshing to hear people directly involved in this conflict opine on the matter. The younger Gallegos has seen things most of us would pay money not to see. His father and other family members probably spend sleepless nights wondering where their son is and if he’s OK.

Trust me on that, I know. My brother spent more than a year in Iraq, and insomnia has never been such a bitch.

In short, the Gallegos family is affected directly by the Iraq war, and their take on the president’s new plan matters far more than any reporter, pundit or talking head. The closest I’ve gotten to Iraq is standing on the tarmac at Holloman Air Force Base and squinting as I watched Stealth Fighters take off.

By the time this is printed, PFC Gallegos will be on a plane. Good luck. And thanks to our hometown station for letting him and his family speak their minds.
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