Like the wars themselves, everyone who looks at this picture will have a different response, and a different opinion of what they see. Two American soldiers who probably never in their young lives thought that they would one day shake the hand of the President of the United States! Two strapping young men - the parts that aren't missing look strong and healthy. They were probably proud of their country and ready to sacrifice for it, and I'm sure that George is congratulating them for their valour, expressing regret for their losses, and telling them how grateful we all are. We are twice as grateful to you on the left. (That's your right, George, in case you're trying to figure it out. You know - the one who appears to be leaning rather heavily on your shoulder as if he's not quite steady on those new pins yet.)
George certainly looks fit, possibly going for a run (solo, I assume) as soon as he's done here. Actually, his trademark smirk looks a little sheepish, like maybe this isn't the best photo-op in the world, like he's anxious to be on his way. Maybe we could publish it alongside a shot of Bin Laden spattered by the human shrapnel of one of his suicide bombers. Would that make you look better, George?
I remember your stirring pronouncement, George - "Mission accomplished!" Well, Amen! to that. But refresh my memory, if you will. What was our mission there? Seems like it kept changing, and I lost track somewhere along the way. Oh yes, we were going to bring peace to the Middle East, and thus to the world. I'm sure that was it.
Of course, in retrospect, my favourite from you is "Bring it on!" Boy, you sure told them. And they took you at your word. Proof positive right there at your hand. I must say though, that you stood up to it all without a scratch. One tough hombre you are, George.
They made promises to me –
“Be all that you can be!”
I didn’t know that all I could be was dead.
They trained me well –
I learned to kill;
to protect my country - for God and Right.
I was sent off to war
on a foreign shore
They said we were buying freedom, and I was to go and pay.
So, valiantly, righteously,
for God and glory,
Against the wrong enemy, but it was what I had been taught.
I died a hero’s death;
and with my final breath,
“When will this end?” “For you it’s now,” the blood-red sand replied.
Now my Mom and my Dad weep aloud,
even though they’re still proud
and the medals I won – posthumously.
But I have to say
it’s better this way –
I just died.
Others must live on with their bodies in pieces and pain inside.
These young fathers, mothers, children, husbands, wives,
with broken minds and broken bodies to broken lives
walking, wheeled, carried, sealed in hidden coffins and shipped home.
"Did we win?" we ask.