Sometimes one cannot protest too much

The ongoing debate over Iraq often tends toward the abstract, but not for me.

Dozens of people gathered Thursday on the mall. What is there to protest?

My boyfriend Josh and I have big plans. We are recent graduates of the University. He is planning on going to graduate school, and we are planning to spend our lives together. But sometimes I wonder if he’ll be the same when I see him next.

Josh is in the National Guard – a military unit reserved for homeland security, disaster relief and state-based humanitarian efforts. As a member of the Guard, he has helped citizens through natural disasters, worked to care for the elderly in hospitals during strikes and has proudly fulfilled eight years of promised duty to the state.

As of today, Josh is an un-official draftee of the United States government through a stop-loss order.

Now, Josh and his unit are on the front lines in Iraq before all other full-time, war-trained military units. His job is to be the first to clear buildings in which terrorists take refuge.

After his unit “clears” a building, a full-time Army unit enters to make arrests. He also serves as convoy protection for the same full-time Army unit. He is a moving target everyday. This is Josh’s job – to be a canary in a coal mine. To be expendable. Josh graduated last year with hopes to go to graduate school and with hopes to spend his life with me. Now he just hopes to make it home.

We don’t hear the soldiers’ stories. They don’t touch us until it’s a friend, a son or daughter, a mom or dad, or a husband or wife. We won’t question the haphazard strategies, the ill-equipped canaries or the grand mistake that this war is until a full draft is instated.

Maybe then, everyone will feel it when they wake up until they go to bed like I do. Maybe then we will see 10,000 gather on the mall rather than 100.

Until then, I will be a small voice fighting to bring Josh home.

Jennifer Dalton is a University alumna. Please send comments to [email protected].