WhaT do we ReallY OwN?
Fallen troops' effects handled with care Medals, mail -- maybe even a forbidden pup. These folks get it home.
"ABERDEEN, Md. - The personal stuff they carried to war, the remnants of lives lost in Iraq, was spread neatly across long tables in a drafty warehouse last week.
Mortuary affairs troops wearing surgical gloves at the Joint Personal Effects Depot went about the tedious work of counting and separating out what belonged to the soldier and what belonged to the government...
In three years of war, Lt. Col. Deborah Skillman, the depot's commander, said her unit at the military's Aberdeen Proving Ground has cut the time for getting the personal effects back to the families from 45 to 22 days.
But the checklist efficiency does little to relieve the stress of handling, photographing and doing the inventory on the last items a fallen comrade may have held, laughed about, cared about.
"You're touching somebody's life here," said Army Capt. Cathy Carman, 34, of Eustis, Fla., who is in charge of the section that carefully packs and boxes up the belongings for shipment home.
"It's an emotional job; nobody here will argue about that," Carman said.
She gestured to a box of tissues kept nearby for the 120 troops and civilian personnel, many of them retired military, who handle the items belonging to soldiers and Marines killed in action.
Driver's license, house keys, letters from home, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, diaries, cigarette lighters, Air Jordans, photo albums, children's drawings, Christmas stockings. Also the spent cartridges from the farewell salute fired by the service member's buddies in Iraq.
When a soldier is killed, his unit inventories and packs what he kept at his bunk site in rucksacks, sea bags and footlockers.
The personal effects of the more than 2,300 troops killed in Iraq have all gone first to the Dover, Del., Air Force Base and then to Aberdeen.
Rivera pointed to a torn-up piece of a brown paper bag with "We Love You" in what appeared to be a child's scrawl written in crayon upon it.
"We don't know what that is. Maybe it's something a kid in Iraq gave to him. It was in his stuff and that's going home.."
Is it about what they "own"?
Sometimes we construct meanings for material objects much in the same way we construct meanings for people..
We all have that special, cherished, or "favorite" possession.
Yes this is our "stuff"..a mere tangible item - clothing, jewelry..perhaps a saved letter.
But it is not of consequence what this soldier "owned". It is now about letting those who loved him or her own more "joy" through the memories of her prized possession...own more love by letting his memory shine out to all those honor him...
and for us ..to own more respect for those laying down their lives for us...even as we speak.
You must see this over at thirdworldcountry.it's time for a little less talk and ALOT more action on illegals.
The Amboy Times has an insightful look at N. Korea and nukes.