Upon Further Review…

After reading Tim O’Brien’s “How to Write a True War Story” and watching Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s documentary “Restrepo” My view of Schmidle’s article pertaining to the killing of Osama Bin Laden has not changed much.

Junger and Hetherington’s “Restrepo” qualified the emotions and descriptions of Schmidle’s piece. I feel as if Schmidle was well aware of the sights and sounds that a Navy SEAL could have experienced on the night they killed Osama Bin Laden, but I do not agree with viewing Schmidle’s article as hard news. Instead, Schmidle’s piece should have been published and treated as a war story likened to Tim O’Brien’s work.

As Tim O’Brien says in his book “The Things they Carried” it is impossible to tell an entirely true war story, as so many details of war are either forgotten or chosen to be remembered differently. Perhaps it us, the readers of Schmidle’s article who should have known that it is impossible to know the truth behind a war story. Perhaps we are wrong for blindly reading his article, not thinking about the fact that every one of the Navy SEALs would have a different vantage point from which their memories come from.

I think the ultimate lesson is to read the article once for what it is and second for what it may not be. The reader should ask him/herself what does or does not qualify this article to be the absolute truth? Why should or should not this article be presented in the manner that it is? This method lets the reader experience an article both as a piece of art and as a piece of fact.

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Emotions

                After reading the assigned readings and watching the movie I am more educated on how much soldiers go through in their emotions.

Soldiers experience firsthand the loss of loved ones, friends, and other soldiers around them.  They not only see the gruesomeness of the war but they have to continue to do their duty after hardships happen.  They have to continue to be strong and complete what they have been assigned to do.  In the movie Restrepo it really got to me how hard being on the battlefield is when a friend is lost.  The soldiers in the movie  did not have time to stop and mourn their lost soldier.  They were still being shot at and had their own lives and other soldiers lives to watch out for.

Another thing that spoke to me was also in Restrepo.  It was uplifting to see how happy the soldiers were when they heard the news they could return home.  The soldiers would finally be safe and out of harm’s way.  Soldiers in the movie would look forward to the plane ride home for months.  It makes you really appreciate having a safe place to come home to everyday.

Other readings and movies we have watched have never really gone into the deep feelings soldiers go through on a daily basis.  I really enjoyed the difference of the last readings and the movie Restrepo and how it really opened my eyes on what goes on during the war that most people do not get a chance to know of hear about.

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Lacking that glory

Many people have read the article written by Nicholas Schmidle about the death of one of the most sought after terrorists, Osama Bin Laden. It is hard to argue that the article is not entertaining, after all, it is written about one on the most historical events of this time, but many have found great fault with the article. The problem is that Schmidle portrays war as a thrilling, exhilarating and victorious thing, but stark reality proves differently.

After reading How To Tell a True War Story by Tim O’Brien, one seems to notice even more problems with Schmidle’s piece. O’Brien’s book addresses the realities of war; it is not pretty, it is quite gruesome and not a happy situation in general. His story tells the supposed truths of war, most of the time is spent doing back-breaking work, resting and hoping for a notice to return home. While the SEALs in their mission to kill “Geronimo,” were not deployed for months, the fact remains that their job was not glamorous or filled with excitement and joy. O’Brien makes one realize that Schmidle glorifies the operation more than what probably happened. These were soldiers going in to kill the most wanted terrorist in the world, they were most likely not happy and giddy as Schmidle’s piece makes them sound. Of course they felt accomplished after the mission, but during they were not thinking about how epic and magnificent their feat was.

The documentary “Restrepo” reinforces this concept even more. It tells the story of two photojournalists in one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan and uses actual footage of the war to prove the point, war is an ugly thing. At the beginning of the deployment, before they depart, many of the soldiers are ready to make this trip, serve their time, and do their part for their beloved county. However, as soon as they descend into the valley they will inhabit for the coming months, their moral instantly plummets. They realize that their duty is not going to be to bravely shoot their gun from behind a wall, kill the enemy and celebrate their victory. No, they quickly find out that their lives are going to become harder than ever before, facing constant fire, losing friends and confronting their fears. There was nothing pretty about it, it was war; if there was a victory it was closely followed by a loss. Unlike Schmidle’s account of the smoothly run operation in Pakistan, soldiers hit roadblocks, things do not go off without a hitch, and sacrifices must be made to move forward. In the end, Schmidle made war appear glorified, heroic and celebratory all throughout the mission. However, as O’Brien’s piece and “Restrepo” show, war is anything but glamorous, there may be uplifting times but they unfortunately are only short lived and followed by even tougher situations.

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Re-Evaluating Schmidle’s Article

Schmidle wrote an article in the New York Times about the navy seals that killed Osama bin Laden. Many criticized him in his writing because he did not have a first-hand account of the operation. His information came from second and even third-hand informants. I too criticized his article until watching “Restrepo”, a documentary on the second platoon that was on a fifteen month deployment to the Korangal Valley, which is considered one of the most dangerous war zones in Afghanistan. In this video I saw soldiers die while others broke down, I saw them having fun and crouching down in fear. This documentary showed the fear of war. Soldiers spend 15 months, sometimes more, sometimes less, in a war zone; 15 months in fear. I can’t imagine going through that; while watching the documentary I was in fear for the entire hour and a half, and I could barely manage that. I can’t imagine 15 months of constant fear and constant worry. That makes all your memories from the certain place a little fuzzy or maybe it turns them into the way “you” saw the event unfold. In reading O’Brien’s piece on war stories and how many war stories aren’t truth yet in some ways they are. I know it sounds complicated and confusing, but at the end of the day one needs to ask the question “What is truth?” In his book O’Brien discusses how war stories can never be told in one hundred percent truth because each soldier will have a different memory.

In light of these two pieces Schmidle may be criticized, but even if he had spoken to the Navy Seals and obtained all of their stories, the puzzle pieces still would only match up as if they belonged to two different puzzles. Because each one will remember each event with a little bit different of an outlook. They will remember it in their own way and in their own light. That brings us back to the question “What is the truth?” Because for all we know Schmidle’s article is the truth, or not but it does piece together as much of the truth as possible and a war story is never the complete truth.

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A Moral Justification of War

For class on Wednesday, please read President Obama’s speech on the occasion of his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. To what extent does the film Restrepo inform your reading of the president’s speech (and vice versa)?

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Tim O’Brien: “How to Tell a True War Story”

How to Tell a True War Story” by Tim O’Brien is a chapter from his book The Things They Carried.  The book is usually described as autobiographical fiction, and so there are moments when it is difficult to discern what genre he is writing in.

 

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Penultimate Assignment

You have two remaining assignments this semester.  The first, due by December 2nd, is what I will call “The Museum of 9.11 Culture and Influence.”

Instructions:

You have been asked by the head curator of the museum, Corrine Adams, to select an artifact that will be placed in this museum.  The artifact will need to be described in the minutest of detail and be accompanied by a 500 word interpretative statement that will help the museum-goer understand the importance of the object and what insight it provides into the way 9.11 changed American life and/or the world order.

For the purposes of this assignment, “artifact” can be broadly defined as a physical object, work of art (including music), law, act of congress, policy, belief or phenomenon that you feel came as a result (directly or indirectly) of the 9.11 attacks.

The description of the artifact should note the medium (material it is made out of or genre), dimensions (size), duration (time length), as well any other distinguishing information, like the author, manufacturer, publisher, and date of its making or origin.

The 500 word interpretative statement should be written objectively and cite expert testimony describing the artifact and its importance.  (Please use MLA style when citing.)

A tumblr blog that will be used to house the artifacts, so you will be able to include audio, video, and hyperlinks to present your artifact, as well as supplement the museum-goers understanding of your artifact.

The blog is located here: http://museumof911culture.tumblr.com/

 

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Editor’s Note

To our readers,

The following is an account of the events of and leading up to the May 1st assassination of Osama Bin Laden. This was a covert operation overseen by the American Governments Central Intelligence Agency. Information for this article comes directly from the detailed accounts of those surrounding the mission specifically those who debriefed the SEALS who carried it out. Due to respect for the safety of individuals and national security our reporter was not able to speak directly to the SEALS involved. With these facts in mind please continue to read the following account.

-The Editor

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A Foreword from the Editor

To our readers,
In the interest of journalistic integrity we at the New Yorker feel it is necessary to make sure you understand that this article is a dramatization of accounts of the SEALs. Although this article is based off of the words of the SEALs that have been gathered over the course of the past several months, we cannot guarantee the solidity of this interpretation. As in any situation in life, there are as many different stories as there are SEALs who were there.
On that note, this is a riveting article, laden with perspectives from the brave men who were there. Our intent is not to give you an exact step by step game plan of what happened May 2nd, but rather to attempt and give Americans and the rest of the world some better perspective on the mission.
Enjoy,

The Editor

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To the readers

Dear readers,

This is an extremely captivating article of the events that occurred on that May night.  Keep in mind when you are reading this article that the information he is giving us did not come directly from any of the twenty three SEALs who were on this mission.  These accounts come from other people who have talked directly with some of the SEALs.  Schmidle is telling a secondhand account of what happened that night. So, just keep in mind when you are reading this article that it is written from hearing a secondhand account of what happened.  This is not straight from the horse’s mouth information.

The Editor

Alison Hornbaker

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