Childhood cancer killed my 14 year old son AJ on January 5th, 2008.
Instead of reciting the usual statistics and why money and awareness is needed, I want to tell a little story. It’s not really mine or about AJ or other kids. I think it’s about the power of youth, not knowing any better, ill (well) behaved young women and men....
It's from a book by a reporter who’s been in Iraq and Afghanistan covering the war since 9/11. It’s not about strategic decisions, or politics. Just short stories of the real shit that happens over there. Here is one story, called Blonde….
In the morning, the Captain and I had walked down a road lined with craters. We’d walked slowly, checking for wires, animal carcasses, loose dirt. Bomb stuff. It was a sweltering morning in Ramadi, with the mist of the Euphrates infiltrating our lungs.
Later on, sitting in a walkway of one of Saddam’s palaces, the captain started telling stories. We hadn’t spent much time together but we’d walked this road and survived, so the air around us for the moment was light and full of trust. We were both from Florida.
“So we came up with this great way to search villages,” the captain told me. He pushed his knife into an MRE.
“We’ve got this girl here in the company – blonde, she’s hot,” the captain said. “This is when we were up in Mosul. We had to search all these villages for guns. Those villages are awful up there. So we went into this village and put the blonde girl we had on top of one of the Bradleys. We just rolled in and put her up there and took off her helmet and let her hair spill out.
“So she’s standing there on top of the Bradley, blonde hair and everything, and we called out on the loudspeaker, ‘This woman is for sale. Blonde woman for sale!’ And I’ll be da$ned if every Iraqi male in that village wasn’t gathered around the Bradley in about two minutes. You know the Iraqis are crazy for blondes. Crazy for them. They don’t have any here”
The captain started eating a strawberry Pop-Tart.
“So she’s standing up there on the Bradley, and we’d have an auction. Highest bid gets the blonde! They’re going crazy, the Iraqi’s, offering their goats, trucks, all their money. Children. Everything. I’m standing up there saying, ‘Nope, not enough! Not enough!’ And they’re bidding more. One of the guys had his hands on the big machine gun just in case it got out of control. The Iraqis were wild. Just staring at her.
“So, we’re up there having this auction, and during the auction I sent our guys around back into the houses to look for guns. We’re having this auction and all the Iraqis are at the auction yelling for the blonde while our guys are collecting guns from the houses. It was totally quiet in the houses, just the women in there. We got this huge pile of guns. Searched the whole village. No problem.
What happened with the auction I asked him?
“We just shut it down. Told them the bids weren’t high enough.” The Captain laughed. “The Iraqis were pissed off but it was okay.”
I was laughing and the captain got quiet for a second.
“We did that in three villages. Worked every time. Then we got reprimanded. Somebody found out about it. They didn’t like it,” he said, chewing on his Pop-Tart and staring at nothing.
“I thought it was brilliant myself. Smartest thing we ever did over here.”
The Forever War – by Dexter Filkins
So, not even sure if I have a point...I just love the story... ......i know each of these kids, if given the chance, will grow up to be somebody that makes a difference, someone like these men and women above. We, as the warriors for these kids, can’t let anyone tell us what we are doing is right or wrong. Our only criterion for success is if it’s working. If it’s shaving our head; that’s cool. If it’s telling everyone you know about childhood cancer; do it. If it’s some other crazy scheme; please, go for it.
But do something....'whatever it takes'.....right?
(...or; Is it blond?)