Soul of American Warriors
Author: Elizabeth Kilbride
Publisher: Father's Press (2011)
Binding: Paperback, 257 pages
A deeply moving story of a writer's journey that shares a rare inside look into the protected world of our military. From the humble beginnings of growing up in a town built for returning war veterans in New York, during the Vietnam War; to her first deployment as an embedded writer with the United States Marine Corps in Iraq -- this story is an experience that will certainly change your view of America and our military.
At the invitation of a Marine Corps general, who was impressed by her book on World War II, Elizabeth Kilbride accompanied a Marine unit to Iraq for five weeks in the spring of 2006. This is a memoir of that journey along with one to battlefields in Vietnam.
In her own words, "I went from the average DC resident to boom, being in a war zone--no basic training for me." Each one of the Marines made me feel like I was a part of their unit--a unique opportunity for a writer to have." But though treated "as if I were their sister," the ride was not all honeymoon for Kilbride. She quickly learned that "Independent media--are treated as their considered second-class citizens, unless you are a big name reporter." Nonetheless, this was a "defining moment" in her life that would not have been possible if she were a "big name reporter." She learned that there's another side to the story in Iraq that's not being reported by the media, a story "of our Armed Forces who are performing such amazing acts of compassion to help others in our name." Kilbride reports this story with deft insight and a passion for truth. Especially provocative is her accusation that politicians and reporters exploit the armed services for political and personal gain by focusing solely on bombings and terrorist attacks. Consequently, the American people are ignorant of the good things the warriors are accomplishing in Iraq. "The forgotten warriors of this war are the Marines of the Al Anbar Province. This is probably because they do not complain, and are rarely mentioned in the media, unless there have been casualties." This is a gross injustice that Kilbride claims can only be rectified by drastic action. "It is very clear when you consider the evidence being presented to us that there needs to be a complete change on Capitol Hill in upcoming elections. Both House and Senate need to be cleared out completely." The media must also be held accountable for promoting mistrust and lies about the armed forces. "While the media plays politics using our military as fodder in their reports during war, they are aiding the enemy. This is a form of treason, which is dangerous and deadly to those in uniform... the media can take credit for any casualties, both during Vietnam and in the war in Iraq." Bold words indeed. But how is this change in political opinion to take place? That everyone read Soul of American Warriors? Though she might like this, Kilbride suggests that the answer can only come when every American experiences a "defining moment," like she has had. One profound suggestion is that every American visit a battlefield, walk inside a bunker, and feel the horror of war still residing there. This gutsy book lacks the grammatical polish of mainstream journalism, but rightfully so, since this is a dispatch directly from the heart. This book is highly recommended for relatives and friends of service members being deployed to a war zone. Every library serving a U.S. military community should acquire it.
Reviewed by: Richard Barone (2010)