Operation Homecoming : Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families
"Here is what you will not find in the news-the personal cost of war written as clear and beautiful as literature worthy of the name is. These stories are the real thing, passionate, imaginative, searing." -Richard Bausch, author ofWives & Lovers The first book of its kind,Operation Homecomingis the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring distinguished writers to military bases and inspire U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families to record their wartime experiences. Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Mark Bowden, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Jeff Shaara, and Marilyn Nelson, American military personnel and their loved ones wrote candidly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front. Taken together, these almost one hundred never-before-published eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, letters, and other personal writings become a dramatic narrative that shows the human side of warfare. - the fear and exhilaration of heading into battle; - the interactions between U.S.
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September 11, 2006
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Excerpt from Operation Homecoming by Andrew Carroll
And Now It Begins
heading into combat
I remember the golden globe in the vast courtyard between the two buildings and a spattering fountain next to cold stone benches. Inside, I would look up in awe at the cathedral-like glass, the suspended walkways, and the grand, vaulted ceilings rising ten stories, crowned with a diadem of crystal chandeliers. I remember the large fabric hanging artwork. I can still smell the concourse level's red carpets when they were new. I was eleven. I remember sitting on those red carpets, reading my schoolbooks, imagining I was in the city's most elegant reading room.
Now, up there on floors so high no hook and ladder could ever reach, a man in a tattered and burned white business shirt stands in a broken window with flames licking at him and smoke billowing around him. I see someone let go, briefly flying. I read later hundreds did the same. Hundreds.
I remember spending many summer afternoons and twilights as a teenager sitting on top of the South Tower, sometimes reading poetry or a book, the raucous sound of the city muted and far below. I was listening only to the air passing by me, my mind wandering.
A second plane slams into the South Tower. The explosion sounds like thunder.
I remember closing my eyes outside in the open air up there and feeling the sun's warmth on my face. No matter how hot it was on those city streets below, there were always cool breezes at more than a thousand feet up. The Tower would gently sway from the wind. It was unnerving at first, but after a while, I remember feeling comforted like a child being rocked back and forth. I wasn't worried she'd tip over. Ever.