I woke up at 5:30 this morning.
My wife was kind enough to bring me a cup of coffee and the dog jumped on the bed and licked my face. I was scheduled to engineer a live ISDN feed to National Public Radios', "On Point" from Santa Barbara to WBUR in Boston. The show airs live in many markets, hence the early call here on the West Coast. I needed to be at the studio at 6:30 to turn on the gear, set up the voice booth and be ready to meet the guest who would be arriving for the program.
Noah, a production intern in Boston, had told me that the program would be about Iraq war vets who have returned from their service and are now in college. I was told that the guest here at The Production Room would be David Hassan, a student at UCSB.
As the production team in Boston and I worked out the final kinks before show time, David walked briskly into the studio and we exchanged greetings. He asked if he had time for a cigarette before the show. I said, "Sure" and finished setting up the session.
Poised and seemingly confident, 25 year old David Hassan took his seat, sipped his coffee and waited for his cue from Boston.
You can listen to this, "On Point" program, "Iraq Veterans on Campus"(after 3:30 PM Eastern Time 11.21.07)
Talya Havice is still on active duty in the US Marine Corps and is in school at Harvard. Matt Stiner is a Marine Corps veteran and is a senior at Oklahoma State University, Tulsa and David Hassan is also a Marine Corps Veteran in his first year at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Each student related the experience of returning to campus after their war. Each gave glancing insights into personal experiences. The show was also full of subtleties and subtext and a deliberate civility that acted like a bandaid covering up some very large wounds that are festering in this country. It was very much like the holiday get-together we'll be staging tomorrow. There are plenty of things we're just not prepared to say to our loved ones on Thanksgiving Day.
These kids all said they came back changed by their experience in the Iraq War. They were surprised by their new perceptions and by the distance of the war from their civilian peers. I heard some interesting things in their answers.
I had a long talk with David after the show. He was frustrated by what he hadn't been able to say. He was a volunteer who enlisted to serve his country. As an Arabic interpreter he was able to hear and understand that Iraqis saw him as a hated foreign occupier. His faith in his mission and his country had been challenged.
I asked him what lasting impact our presence in Iraq might have. He said, "I listened to those people every day. There are a large number of them who really really hate us now. They have no confidence that we can get the job done." He told me things he knew he couldn't say in public in a polite conversation with other vets on a radio program.
I had some time to think about what I'd heard. These Marines all seemed to be adjusting well and moving ahead into their futures. But they all acknowledged that they had been changed by their past service. A sense of gain - increased confidence and discipline is mixed with a realization of loss
I got a sense today of just how isolated we are from this war and the false hopes this promotes. Here, the thinking is almost totally polarized into being for or against the war. Both sides are fond of imagining that we will finally have a "Mission Accomplished" moment when the boys come marching home. That isn't likely in any event and won't be a reality for most of our vets.
Listen to this On Point program and see how big the writing is between the lines.
The kids we sent from America to fight in Iraq can't come home again.
The Production Room was founded in 1995 as one of the first full time digital commercial recording facilties on the central coast of California. We started with 4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive. A lot has happened since then. Today we're focusing on ways to serve clients who are creating web based media content. This includes strategic planning to integrate the benefits of traditional media, web design and IT solutions into new programs produced especially for on-line consumers. Join in the conversation. Throw rocks at glass houses. Share your vision of the future. This is the most progressive time in the media arts since Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type!