05 September, 2006

Get It. Now.

Go get it now. Buy one for yourself and for a friend.

The Blog of War defies description. It arrived on my front step today, and with it a whirlwind of emotions that feel like they're too much and too variegated to be contained in one heart.

Today I held in my hand a cast of characters that are not only individuals to me, but avatars of a time and place in the life of me and my country, people I have come to know and love. I flipped immediately to the index to find the one post I had been wanting to read for months, but found instead the "where are they now?" appendix of contributors: memories of emails and worries, tears and exultation, wisdom and knowledge kindly transmitted, hugs long-delayed...

But I somehow couldn't bring myself to sit down and really read it, so I just browsed from excerpt to excerpt, never really able to sit and focus for more than moments (I understand now what Sarah said about only being able to read it in short bursts). Some of it's familiar, some of it's new...

I finally settled down enough to read introductions and posts here and there in their entirety. And I was knocked off my feet. These are real people. It is exactly as the publisher describes: A "choir of voices" who combine to give us a broad view into the life of military service in wartime with a rawness and immediacy never before seen.

I soon realized that the book was strangely both painful--a bald-faced look at war--and a glorious tribute to the human spirit, to the beauty and agony of life and death that makes us who we are. A peek into the truth of war, and a tribute to the "everydayness" of people who rise to the occasion... in all their compassion, ferocity, tenderness, profanity of word and spirit, in their brilliance and humor, in their courage as they struggle to hold together all that threatens to fall apart along the way.

I also couldn't help but think of the impact so many of these people have had on my life, and how what we have done together for others has changed my own world, too. Who they are and what they have done has extended even to me. But that's another story that I'll write soon....

In the meantime, I sit here with tears of sorrow, joy, pride and gratitude rolling down my cheeks. I cannot put it into words what should be said about those who have faced the dark on our behalf. But in giving them space to speak for themselves, this book says all that needs to be said.

Matt, ya done good. Very good.

Update: Welcome, Blackfive readers. If you're new to the neighborhood, please check out the Valour-IT button on the sidebar. Valour-IT is a project of Soldiers' Angels to give voice-controlled laptops to wounded soldiers, and has been supported and sustained by many of the bloggers in Matt's book. Just click on the icon to visit the official website.