Saturday, October 08, 2005


Everyone has choices. I have made mine and must live with them. My choices have me thousands of miles from home for the second time, with weapon in hand. I find myself surprised at times, wondering how it came to be that I am where I am, but then I look behind me and I can see every turn that brought me here.

Responsibility? I take it, all of it. I have to live with my choices and they have not all been simple ones. Bad choices have been made as well as good. I am not some fly caught in the web of fate.

Hindsight is 20/20 right? What should I have done differently? Doesn't matter because I can not go back. It was my hand that signed the contract that enlisted me as a soldier. What I thought would happen doesn't matter, what matters is what did happen.

So here in Iraq I sit for the second time. What matters now is to get back home. To return to my wife and kids.


Anonymous said...

I wish i could say something worthwhile here, but I have no idea what to.

I wish you all the good fortune, and hope the days till you return home pass quickly.

I picked up your blog from Time magazine, and i've been reading it since. It has moved me, and changed my outlook on the situation in Iraq. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...


my prayers with you.

Anonymous said...

good luck and hopefully you make it home to your wife and kids soon.

Anonymous said...

From one who survived the madness of the Viet Nam era, I, who am viscerally anti-religious, pray that you survive the madness of Iraq and the nascent Fascism that has infected our mutually beloved country.

Anonymous said...

If I were a soldier in a dangerous situation in Iraq,I would not want you by my side. You and our country would be better served if you were immediately releasaed from military service.You would be happier and our country would be better served, a win-win situation.

L8N said...

Of course, the key part of that last comment is, If I were a soldier in a dangerous situation. Obviously, he or she isn't. I was in the Guard for ten years and just happened to get out in June of 2001. There are times when I feel a little guilty that I am no longer in uniform. But I see just how incompetently things are being run and what a piss poor job this administration of chicken-hawks is doing and I get over it. Stay safe, Zach. Stay safe for the sake of your family, but also so that you can come back and help to get the truth out regarding this war.

I linked to your blog from DKos. I'll be coming back often. Let everyone there know that the disgust many of us feel for the administration does not, in any way, reflect how we feel about the men and women doing their jobs and their duty in Iraq.

cotterperson said...

If civilians admitted it, they, too, have taken employment and then been surprised by their responsibilities. It has happened to me and to many I know.

Please know many of us are doing what little we can to help get you home.

You and your family are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

you're a fool if you think a soldier can't be against the war and still serve honorably, just like you're a fool if you think a civilian can't be against the war and still support the troops. the simplistic world view expressed in the 3:33 PM post above is of course ironically, exactly what led the USA into this horrible situation. Stay safe and keep blogging.

Anonymous said...

Zach, thank you for your service and for letting us see inside your heart and mind. Your blog is important to me, as I prepare to watch my son go back over there for a second time. We hope the deployment won't be until after christmas. But I fear it every day. I pray for you and all living through the hell in Iraq. I wish I could do more.........

andrew MacBride said...

Good luck, stay safe, and please keep posting. You are a great example to all, in that you are thinking and reflecting on what you are doing, and its meaning. It is American to question, or wonder at motivations, and yet still do your duty...I truly admire you.

Hurria said...

"I pray for you and all living through the hell in Iraq."

Let us not forget who created that hell on earth that is now Iraq, and let us not forget whose actions have made it steadily worse every day they have been there.

Let us also not forget that Zach and his colleagues come for a while, create hell on earth for Iraqis, and then they get to leave the hell they created and go back to their homes and lives leaving Iraqis with a wrecked country and wrecked lives.

I do not wish any ill on them, but I simply cannot feel sympathy for those who come to our country, turn it into a hell on earth, and then go back to their lives and loves leaving us to live with what they have created.

Hurria said...

"If civilians admitted it, they, too, have taken employment and then been surprised by their responsibilities."

What an absurd analogy! Can anyone who joins the military possibly be stupid enough to be surprised when they are given the responsibility of going to a foreign country to kill and destroy? That is, after all, the primary responsibility of the military. That is, after all, what they are trained to do from the beginning. Do they think they are taught to use deadly weapons for fun and games purposes? Give me a break!

Edward said...

Sgt Zachary,
You are standing in the way of the establishment of the caliphate and subsequent expansion of attacks with even more powerful weapons on our home territory. Iraq is the bone in the throat of AQ, just as Bastone was to the last German offensive.

We thought that with the fall of the Soviet Union we could relax. That turned out to be false, as another and even more insane enemy was even then training for battle.

Thank you for your service, especially in the critical job of translator. It is a singularly critical task you have to understand the Iraqi culture and translate back and forth accurately and with an understanding of the nuances. Many lives depend upon your performing that task with skill and wisdom.

I wish you success, and safe return to your family. Your service is necessary to protect their world from an incredibly brutal enemy.

Anonymous said...

Take care Zack

Respect for you from holland


Chris said...

"Can anyone who joins the military possibly be stupid enough to be surprised when they are given the responsibility of going to a foreign country to kill and destroy? That is, after all, the primary responsibility of the military."

I don't agree. The primary responsibility of the military is to protect its nation. Enlisting in the military is not a carte blanche accepting the fate of being shipped to a foreign land to kill innocent people.

Zach, take care of yourself and know that my thoughts ands prayers are with you.


"I wish the world was run by love, and absolutely nothing more."

"And if gets scary and the bullets fly,
Know that I'll be right there by your side.
And if you gotta man in your crosshairs
Before you pull the trigger
Say a litte prayer for him
Cause deep down,
We're all the same.
We all laugh and we cry
And we dream about better days
Cause everybody sins, but not everybody loves
So if you try to love everyone
Shouldn't that be enough?"

Snag said...

"Anonymous said...
If I were a soldier in a dangerous situation in Iraq,I would not want you by my side."
Thanks for your concern. That's very considerate of you to not want to put our troops in harms way by your mindless following of doctrine. There have been many leaders with a mindset such as yours, that effectively walk their troops right into mine fields because thay could do no wrong.
Any ape can pull a trigger, catch a bullet, or blindly follow. The beauty of the American soldier in the face of history has been his (her) ability to evaluate, reasess, and act indipendently.
During my time, I expected my soldiers to give me a heads up if there was something amiss. It made us a stonger and better team.
Again, thanks for not wanting Zach by your side. I want him to get out of this safe and in one piece. Drones and zombies tend to attract fire.

GiHadGene said...

Chris, Chris, Chris....
"If it gets scary and the bullets fly", you'd be nowhere to be found.Show me the love brother, particularly on 9-11-01. "If you try to love everyone shouldn't that be enough?" Chris, tell that to the victims and family members murdered on 9-11 and especially tell that to the NYPD, NYFD, and Port Authority survivors. I am glad there is no draft because my son might have to serve with you...but then again you would probably take the "Run to Canada Option". I can only hope that later you wouldn't run back home to the USA and some weak a$$ President would grant you amnesty at a later date.

And Zach..Dear Zach,
Get outta this funk now! American and Iraqi lives depend on it, yours as well. If ya got a problem you'd better air it out now. If you know of wrong doing then report it to the I.G. or another trusted source. Something is eating at you, I don't know what. Life here (on Earth) is decision making. Our decisions follow us the rest of our days. You write of responsibility and that's refreshing to hear in our world of politicians (Republican & Democrat). Seek someone you respect, who has wisdom, and be trusting enough to dump this burden you seem to be carrying.
God bless you...GiHadGene

Anonymous said...

I could have written the exact same words some 40 years ago. I understand.

Those of us who were in the military, not simply spending time bitching like the anti-religous vietnam psuedo vet, know a couple of things. We know that you commit to the whole thing even if you didn't know the full extent of the 'whole thing'. Being true to your word, your commitment makes you a dependable honest man. That counts for more than you'll realize.

A piece of advise: pay attention! You can't do anything about the one with your name on it. The real problem is those thousands of others that simply say "fool".

USMC Corporal

Chris said...

"Chris, tell that to the victims and family members murdered on 9-11 and especially tell that to the NYPD, NYFD, and Port Authority survivors."

The words from the song didn't quite get through I see. It said, "Shouldn't that be enough" not "isn't that enough." If that was enough, this world would be a much different place. I respect the heroes who saved lives, and I feel for the families affected by 9/11 more than you know gene; my cousin worked in the Pentagon and nearly lost his life that day. That doesn't mean I have to support this sham of a war. Every life has value, my friend.

I hope there's not a draft too, but if there was and I had to serve with your son, I'd do everything I could to protect his life. I'm sure he means the world to you. I will add this too, if there were ever a draft, I bet you that war would end before you knew what happened.

Is it so hard for people to understand that one can oppose the war, but still love this country with every fiber of his being?

Think Peace.


"In the end, each of us will be judged by our standard of life, not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving, not by our measure or wealth; by our simple goodness, not by our seeming greatness."

Anonymous said...

"Let us not forget who created that hell on earth that is now Iraq, and let us not forget whose actions have made it steadily worse every day they have been there."

Yes, Hurria, let us NOT forget who made Iraq the hell it is. To blame the U.S. for all the problems in Iraq is moronic. Step back and take a good look at the history of your country and the events that led to the current situation there. To continue blaming the U.S. soldiers, Marines, etc., for the "hell" that is Iraq is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone. Zach, Still reading you all the time and always liking what you share. Sorry about what u are going through and wanting you to come home with all our troops. We have created a mess and a hell on Earth. Tomorrow I plan on driving a bit and attending the traveling exhibit called Eyes Wide Open. You know the one with all the soldiers boots. There are also exhibits about Iraq and the thousands of Iraqis killed. I have been waiting for the exhibit to come near me for months. It is likely to be very sad and I'll probably have to end up going alone. I'll let you know how it was. Peace and keep safe.
Margie from New York

Monique said...

Thinking of you, your families and all the other military men and women currently in the Middle East. God Bless you.

Hurria said...

Dear Anonymous,

How typically and stupidly arrogant for an American to lecture me about Iraq's history. And just where do you get your vast expertise on that subject, pray tell? Well, I got my knowledge of Iraq's history from direct experience, having lived through much of it, and learned of much of it from others who were there.

Iraq was not by any means a pleasant or an easy place to live prior to March, 2003, but it was nothing like the hell on earth it has become after the Americans used massive deadly and destructive violence to force their way into the country, and to continue their presence there. Anyone with two eyes, two ears, and a brain can see who is responsible for the hellish condition of the country now. To put the responsibility for the present situation in Iraq on anyone but the American invading and occupying force and those who command them is not only ridiculous, it is delusional.

Kristen said...

Hurria. Sorry if this comes out kind of muddled, I'm slighty intoxicated(22nd b-day). But even though I will continue to support Zach and my husband, my heart really bleeds for your people. And I use the term "your people" loosly because we are all human, though some of us SEEM like monsters. Every time I see a picture of an Iraqi man or woman crying out to God by the body of their child, I cry. I cry because I try to put myself in their place and imagine it is my son I am sitting next to. And I know no matter how many tears I shed I will never bring that child back, nor will I know the pain that parent feels. All I can say is that I am sorry.

Hurria said...

"The primary responsibility of the military is to protect its nation."

Come on! Name one instance since WW II in which the U.S. military actually used to protect the U.S. from a real threat.

"Enlisting in the military is not a carte blanche accepting the fate of being shipped to a foreign land to kill innocent people."

On the contrary, anyone with any knowledge at all of U.S. military history would be stupid not to accept that by joining the military s/he is very likely to be shipped to a foreign land to kill and destroy. Anyone who joins the military with any other assumption is worse than a fool.

When you take a job with an organization whose job is to kill people and destroy things, and whose people are trained and conditioned from the beginning to obediently kill people and destroy things, you should not be surprised when you end up being required to do just that.

Hurria said...

Kristen, I appreciate very much your words and the sentiments that motivated them. I can appreciate how helpless so many Americans feel to do anything about their government's headlong plunge into the abyss. All I can suggest is to keep on doing whatever small or large things you can do each day or each week and remember that while it might feel like a drop in a vast ocean, every ocean is made up of many drops, and the more each of you do the more effect it will have. Already I see that the tide of public opinion (for once I am not mixing my metaphores - purely coincidental, I am sure!) has turned dramatically, thanks in some part to Cindy Sheehan, and also to Katrina (may God protect the victims of that terrible disaster).

I also do understand that it is a dilemma for you that your husband is participating in something you know to be very wrong. I know what I would do if I were personally ordered to take part in something I knew to be legally and morally wrong, but I do not know what I would do in your position, so I will not presume to advise you. I will point out, however, that if your husband refused to participate in his government's crimes, and was required to spend some time in prison at least you could be reasonably certain that he would eventually return to you alive and intact.

Mike O said...

Stay safe and; hopefully, your lingusitic skills will not only continue to add to the safety of your fellow soldiers, but also to the understanding between two great people. That is the most important aspect of your work. It sounds like you've made a lot of good decsiions in life and may they lead you back to your family safe and soon.

Hurria said...

Mike O, Zach and the other "linguists" are not there on a mission to promote cultural understanding and diplomacy, they there as part of a very violent, deadly, and destructive conquering force. Their job is to enforce the occupation by whatever ugly means are deemed "necessary", not to add to the understanding between two "great people".

In any case, what is to understand? The United States has for no good reason violently invaded Iraq, killed tens of thousands of its people, permanently maimed hundreds of thousands more, ruined millions of lives forever, destroyed entire cities, and turned the country into a chaotic hell on earth for the forseeable future. That is all anyone really needs to understand.

Gihadgene said...

Now I know who you are! In WWII it was "Tokyo Rose" it's "Burka Betty"!
Allah Akbar!

banana said...

i don't agree. it's not your fault, it's all these jerkoffs that have turned the united states from the great country it once was to the boil on the butt of momma earth.
by voting for jerks like Bush and buy driving gas guzzling SUVs....stupid drones.

there used to be a time when some parts of american military did good things in the world, yes some bad too, but some good.

i can understand why you did what you did, but you didn't do it because you wanted to fight in iraq.

who would have thought this would happen?
who would have though that judicial acitivst Rehnquist would hand the white house to chimp-boy bush on a silver platter?
who would have though that brother jeb bush would abuse democracy by screwing crap up in florida in november 2000?

oh, and where's osama? he's waiting in the wings for his next pre-election stage call to do a public advertisement for the right wing candidates.

he'll never get caught. the two terrorist factions need each other...fuel to each other's fire.

Mike said...

My dad has a quote hanging on the wall by his computer with which I have been able to identify on more than a few occasions: "It is pointless and an utter waste of time to ask me what I would do if things were different. They are not different."

Jamie said...

Hi Zach! I hope you are doing well and staying safe. Your website was mentioned in an article I was reading and I've been hooked ever since. You have such a way with words. It's very touching. I've placed a link to your site on mine so that my visitors can come and check yours out. You've done an amazing job. I pray that you are home with your family soon. Take care...

Tickneen said...

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Kitty Antonik Wakfer said...

Zach makes choices every day, including the one to continue his enlistment contract that has resulted in him performing acts of harm (initiating force) directly and in active supportive roles. He is quite correct that "[he] can not go back. It was [his] hand that signed the contract that enlisted [him] as a soldier. What [he] thought would happen doesn't matter, what matters is what did happen." What he fails to write (and maybe even to face the fact of) is that every day is the first day of the rest of his life - in fact every moment begins the rest of one's life, and every such moment brings the possibility of changing one's previous choices of what actions are best to take.

As I noted my intentions in my comments on October 8 to the October 4 2005 entry, "Ghost of a Father", I did create a dialogue page using an exchange with Kristen ( ) and in it made a strong summary, part of which I copy here:

The individual enforcers are responsible for their actions - they each have the ability to not take a particular action and/or to remove themselves from a position in which they initiate force. None are in circumstances where they would be killed by superiors if they did not initiate force on the designated enemy. (This is not a situation of a "declared war" - and rapid easy worldwide communication places a revealing spotlight on activities.) The enforcers and active support forces cannot claim that their families are being held physical hostages (as has been a valid claim by some soldiers in dictatorship/totalitarian armies.) Breaking a contract of enlistment is always possible; of course there will be negative consequences of such an action, but that action is certainly among the choices for each enforcer and active supporter of those enforcers. However, it does take a certain amount of courage for an individual to be among the first willing to stand up and shout out, "the emperor has no clothes" ("the leaders have no power without me and others like me doing their bidding") and become an ex-enforcer/ex-active supporter. This is where truly supportive families and friends can assist by widely disseminating information and providing more tangible support as needed. Even an initially only modest decline in the number of enablers of military action (actual enforcers and the active support forces) would encourage others to acknowledge that their activities in Iraq and Afghanistan are not in their own widest viewed, longest range best interest. And so "an Army of us" (as Kristen described above) of non-participants can really come about - and "stand down" from its activities and "come home". By large numbers of individuals realizing that fulfilling their life's purpose of maximizing their own lifetime happiness must include accepting responsibility for their own actions and the consequences of those actions, this "war of terrorism", supposedly against terrorism, can be ended.

So to all the Zachs, I remind you that the responsibility for all your actions are yours; "the buck stops" at each individual! Each of you will carry with you the images of the harm you continue to perform and/or abet while knowing that the decision to do so or stop is yours. Those hauntings are likely to fade much sooner if you actively decide to bring your actions to a stop, rather that passively wait for the orders to return home.

**Kitty Antonik Wakfer
MoreLife for the rational -
Reality based tools for more life in quantity and quality
Self-Sovereign Individual Project -
Rational freedom by self-sovereignty & social contracting

Lietta Ruger said...

Safe homecoming. I just found your blog today and appreciate the reflective thoughts you post. I'd like to continue to follow along reading your blog, and hope you will continue to post your thoughts. There is an authentic quality to what you post that belies rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Almost forty years ago, in a far away war, when I was in temporary command of my unit, I did not stop a fellow officer from conducting an interrogatory of a prisoner, using torture. Hardly ever a day passes without my regretting my inaction. If you want to have some peace of mind for the rest of your life, leave now and put up with the consequences.

Anonymous said...

My friend,
With every breath, we have a new life, a new opportunity. Loving compassion, kindness to the self is where to start. Forgiveness is a powerful tool as well. I am a veteran, but I am also against this war... It is an illegal and immoral war, where our military personnel are being killed and abused, by lying polititions who have never served their country. I wish you God Spead, and that you return safely. You have the rest of your life to serve and be a beacon of kindness and compastion. Randy Clere

Anonymous said...

In case anybody wants to read some more about how bad things are in Iraq and how they got that way (Zach and Hurria probably know this already), here's an excellent article by Patrick Cockburn who reports from Iraq for the UK "Independent" newspaper:

Peace and safe home-coming to all in Iraq.


Looking Glass Girl said...

Hey Zach,
I guess I missed blogging, so I've started up again if you ever want to read it. I'm thinking of you and miss you lots!
ps. Lola (my puppy) says HELLO!