The War comes to Campus

Im age of the War Effort at Mary Washington

Yesterday was a surreal day at the University of Mary Washington. What seemed to be just another languid and steamy Summer day turned out to be a brutal reminder of the War in Iraq. UMW was the setting for hundreds of National Guardsmen and women who were saying goodbye to their families and friends as they prepared to ship out for a 400 day tour. For many of these soldiers it was their second stint in the Middle East, and it really pierced the languid and insular aura of this manicured Liberal Arts college -in many ways the picture perfect campus. A haunting reminder that troops are still deploying en masse around the country, and that there is no end in sight to the madness in Iraq. I really hope everyone of the soldiers that I rubbed shoulders with yesterday, who were waiting patiently waiting in and around the air-conditioned Combs Hall for their bus to leave, returns home safe and sound very soon. And for the rest of us, I hope it is a stark reminder that we are a nation at war, and we have both the obligation and the right to voice our feelings -but let us never conflate the fate of the individual with a particular government’s “scalable” vision of demoncracy. Read more about the war coming home to Fredericksburg here.

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2 Responses to The War comes to Campus

  1. Barbara says:

    Well said, Jim.

    We in our pristine higher ed bastions of privilege (how many of OUR students are heading to Iraq?) need to have “pierced the languid and insular aura of this manicured Liberal Arts college.” How many of us are standing down on our town greens every Saturday morning in silent protest? How many of us are even engaging our students in lively discussion about our responsibilities as citizens?

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. jimgroom says:

    It was a rude reminder for me, running around playing WP fanboy on TV sometimes I dislocate from the state of the state, so to speak. It was extremely difficult to comprehend the innumerable ruck sacks lined up in neat rows on the lawn in front of Combs Hall, as soldiers stole away with their families and friends for the final minutes of communion. It all became further complicated as the young kids from the soccer camp being held on campus streamed through the scene gawking at the goings on. This generational contact with the the War and its place in our society is so strange. There was no community support, very little fanfare, just neat rows of luggage -so different from the archival images of Mary Washington during World War II. What happens when international struggle becomes something you aim to cut your constituents off from -why does the tenor of this war, 60 some odd years later seem so perfunctory while at the same time inevitable. Just a moment of watching the historical setting around me and fully realizing that how much a product of this historical moment I am.

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