Coming Home

By Busch, Benjamin | Newsweek, January 2, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Coming Home


Busch, Benjamin, Newsweek


Byline: Benjamin Busch

A marine Officer who served two tours of duty shares memories of his time in Iraq and what the return home has meant.

The nights are still cool here and the winds blow across the Euphrates from the deserts beyond bringing summer. There is an abandoned grove of fig trees on the ruined palace grounds.Green leaves have appeared through the dry scales of foliage still clinging to the branches from last season.I am thinking of spring in Central New York and the blooming of daffodils and crocus.The dark moist earth and the smell of pastures. Shadows returning beneath the trees.

Letter from Ramadi, 2005

On my daughter's first birthday, I returned from Iraq after a bloody tour in the city of Ramadi. It was 2005, my second tour. I had been wounded there, a friend killed in front of me, our casualties coming in almost daily as we fought the city to save it. I met death in war, and it followed me home. Within four months, my father, the author Frederick Busch, died of a sudden heart attack on a sidewalk in New York City--followed closely by my mother, who was taken by an incurable brain tumor. Home could never be what it was before I left. I was not alone in that feeling.

We didn't speak much of our families while we were in Iraq. Their safety seemed dependent upon distance from us, and ours upon a certain detachment from them. I left my wedding ring at home. I did not want the war to know that it could hurt anyone but me. I stopped believing that I would survive my tour in Ramadi, but it was a friend who died in my place. His death was sudden, brutal, and his shattered vehicle burned for much of the night. We guarded the wreckage in the dark, surrounded by Iraq, waiting to recover the body of another Marine trapped beneath it. In the morning I went to his room. On a shelf there was a single family photograph. There he was, alive, with his wife and young children. But I had seen him die. His wife did not yet know that she was a widow. I was there to witness the end of their family, and I was there to see it happen to Iraqi families, too.

Our troops are leaving Iraq. I see no signs that America is exultant. Our electorate became exhausted by news of the conflict long ago, desensitized by its constancy, our brief impatience for results or departure dissipating, pacified by the conflict's inability to endanger our domestic comforts. The war became what it often is, good business and far away. As casualties mounted, people displayed yellow symbols of support for the troops on their car bumpers, but few activists demanded an end to our bloodletting. It was a very supportive complacency, and it went on for years while our military patrolled the desert. Despite the evidence that our invasion had been a complete mistake, we came to accept our deepening commitment to an unjust war.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Coming Home
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?