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Staff Sgt Cardenas Alban

This morning my roommate told me that people, when they are screaming, bleeding to death in Iraq, usually scream about their families.  Their wives, children, parents.  He says he saw it on the internet.  A website with movies taken by soldiers over there.  Shows what war really is, he said, how bad it really is.  What people really see over there.

There is an article in the paper today, about a US soldier sentenced to a year in jail in Iraq for executing a 16-year old who was burning to death in a truck “set alight by fighting.”  His name, the soldier, is Cardenas Alban.  Another soldier, Johnny Horne, was sentenced to three years for the same killing.  I don’t know where they’re from.  I wonder what the kid was screaming about, covered in burns.  And I wonder, at that moment, in the creaking lull post-firefight, on a blackened road in Sadr City, listening to a child’s life end, what my roommate, myself, my brother or my boss would do, standing outside that truck, in the heat of the flames holding a still hot M-16.

And what would that make you, to be standing there, whether you did the same as Staff Sgt. Cardenas Alban did, or not.

As of Friday the 14th, at least 1360 members of the US military had died since the beginning of the Iraq War, according to an AP count.  The latest identification was reported by relatives:  Juan Rodrigo Rodriguez, 23, from Laredo, Texas.  He was killed Thursday, in an explosion.  It’s unclear whether he had time to scream, or not.

JD Ross Leahy

January, 2005

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