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Rated: 13+ · Column · War · #1003481
I've never been a fan of U.S. action in the Mideast, but I never gave much thought.
I've never been a fan of U.S. action in the Middle East, but I never really gave much thought to it either way.

That is, until last week, when the war on Iraq hit too close to home.

On Jan. 20, I was sitting in the Advocate office when our arts and entertainment editor Bronson -----'s cell phone rang. A few minutes later, the CMU halls filled with the sound of his yelled expletive. His unit in the National Guard had been put on alert.

Suddenly, my mind began to race. Would Bronson have to go to war? Would he be on the front lines? Would he be hurt? Would he be injured? Would he be ... killed?

All the images I'd seen in Time, Life and Newsweek and all the clips I'd watched on "20/20," "Nightline" and "World News Tonight" rushed through my head. Nameless corpses, dirtied soldiers, crying mothers, hardened veterans and rows of tombstones - could these be in my friend's future?

I tried to comprehend everything, but remained convinced that something was wrong. Maybe it was just a readiness drill and he wasn't really going anywhere. Perhaps there was a paperwork error and it wasn't the 142nd that was supposed to be called but the 124th?

On Jan. 21, The Forum newspaper carried the news about the call-up and the TV stations all had it on the news. It began to dawn on me that this was real.

So, instead of coming up with reasons about why it couldn't be real, I and the rest of the Advocate staff began to formulate plans to get him out of the service. What if we got him drunk and whisked him away to Canada? What if I pushed him down a flight of stairs and he broke his leg? Or we shot him in the foot? What if he got mono?

We tossed around ideas and joked about how our lives would be different if Bronson wasn't there. Despite our joviality, I think we all knew, deep down, that this was a momentous thing. This could be Bronson's last week at The Advocate. We all felt the gravity of the moment, but tried to pretend we didn't.

We all wanted to wake up and find we'd been dreaming.

But we weren't. Bronson is in Colorado now, his next destination unknown to us, but probably somewhere in the Mideast. And, while he assures me that there's very little chance of it happening, I can't help feeling that every day he's away, he's more in danger of the bad things from war movies - wounds, enemy prison camps and, the worst five-letter word in the English language, death.

I've never been a religious person, but, when I think about what may be in store for Bronson, I can't help but pray that god, any god, will protect him and the thousands of other soldiers like him who are out there, fighting for us. I don't pray for a victory, I only pray for my friend.

Published 30 January 2003 in "The Advocate," Minnesota State University Moorhead

Edit: Bronson came back after just over a year on active duty. He spent some time in Iraq, but returned unharmed. Thanks to everyone who asked! I still don't support U.S. action in the Middle East, but I am a staunch supporter of our troops and I hope they all come back safely.
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