Weekly Round-Up: Independence Day

Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday America

Welcome to the Words After War Weekly Round-Up: “Independence Day” Edition. In this space we share links relevant to our mission of improving the military-civilian dialogue through high-quality literary programming.

Happy Independence Day. We hope that everyone spent the long weekend with friends and family, and kept all those deployed front of mind.

Again, thanks to all that came out last weekend – it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. If you missed Pete Molin’s summary of the event, be sure to check it out on his Time Now blog. For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’ve included my introduction to the event as this week’s post. Thanks for reading.

Danger Close is part of an ongoing discussion series where we bring veterans and civilians together to discuss how war and conflict have changed our lives. So when thinking about a panel on 9/11, it made sense to bring together a group of individuals with diverse experiences – military, NGO, private sector and media. For me, as an 18-year old at the time, I couldn’t have comprehended just how much my life was about to change. And that’s true for everyone in this room, because our nation was radically changed on the morning of September 11th, 2001, in ways that we probably haven’t yet fully realized.

As a military veteran, I have focused heavily on how the wars have directly impacted the lives of the men and women I served with. And, yes, it’s true what they say, when talking about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: a few have carried the burden of the many. Yet, that doesn’t tell the whole story of how our nation has changed, as there was a small rip in the fabric of every thing we knew.

Growing up in the suburbs of DC, then joining the military and now working in NYC, it’s clear to me that 9/11 is a thread that runs through everything I know, personally and professionally. But I have often wondered what the impact has been on all of our citizens. I recently heard the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald speak about that morning, and he talked about how a choice to take his child to kindergarten saved his life. 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees were killed that day, including the CEO’s own brother.

Thinking beyond counter-terrorism, beyond New York, beyond the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania, the very fact that we have been at war for nearly 13 years is unprecedented in our nation’s history. And despite it all, at least on the surface of things, it seems like not a lot has really change, especially now that advisors are once again in Iraq.

If the gravity of our times weren’t so real, it would be more amusing to me that my Twitter feed over the last few weeks has been a flood of conversations on Iraq, Dick Cheney, and maybe most bizarrely the early-2000s metal band Linkin Park (who is hosting a veteran-friendly summer concert series).

In a strange way, with so much talk of Iraq, the Bush administration and bad rock music, it’s like the year is still 2002, and somehow, despite all that has happened, we are all stuck in time.

Here we go.

  1. Elliot Ackerman wrote for The New Yorker about his experience marching in the Pride Festival along the streets of Istanbul as ISIS continues to terrorize Iraq and Syria.
  2. The Virginian-Pilot produced an excellent profile of our friends at the Veterans Writing Project, who are doing great work with writing, trauma, and PTSD.
  3. Ted Thompson had some rather revealing things to say to Salon about the finances of publishing his first novel.
  4. In its first foray into fiction, The Daily Beast chose Elliot Ackerman’s “Four Hundred Grand.”
  5. We published our summer reading list last week, so this week you can see what the folks at Politico Magazine and Council on Foreign Relations will be reading this summer.
  6. Matthew Brandon Wolfson wrote an exceptional essay/book review for Los Angeles Review of Books on the two biggest political memoirs of the year: Robert Gates’ Duty and Hilary Clinton’s Hard Choices.
  7. The Daily Beast asked a few vets, who are all writers, to recommend a couple of books that help to teach us about Iraq.

Have a great week.


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