By Marisa Buchanan, Nightly News Producer
I understand duty to one's country - I've had military in my family for several generations now. It's an incredible personal and proud sacrifice to serve no matter what the outcome. I understand, too, duty manifests itself in other ways as well even though so often we forget to acknowledge it. That's why this story, which you'll see reported tonight by Ann Curry, resonated with me.
Andi Parhamovich didn't have to go to war. She didn't even agree with the war. She went, though -- fearless and committed -- and maybe that's what made Baghdad seem not as dangerous as it surely was on the day her convoy was targeted.
Over 1,000 American civilians have died in Iraq since the war started. I Lost my Love in Baghdad -- the book that tonight's story is based on -- celebrates an American life that wasn't bound by any military duty but "served" in Iraq anyway. You might assume a security guard, or a contractor, but this was a young idealist. She was there for an American NGO -- teaching and advising Iraqis about democratic elections, creating civil institutions, and political accountability, all at the grassroots level -- and in a place crippled by bloodshed. It would have surprised anyone to see her in Baghdad, not just because she was a cheerful blonde-haired woman. She was pure of heart -- to hear her fiancé describe her -- and her loss through his eyes and those of her family is a story of young love, bold hope and, for those that are left behind, survival.
Michael Hastings, former Baghdad correspondent for Newsweek, has written a modern war story (as the cover says), accessible to those who don't see the Iraq war through its policy missteps or possibly don't even see the war at all. But this is a reality many young people will get: it's love through emails and text messages. Just another couple in love, but with the Iraq war as the backdrop it became a story about sacrifice and the true cost of war.
Many in my generation -- those not serving in any way -- are losing out on any intimate understanding of this war. We are obsessed with ourselves -- our own reality, our own celebrity. We are not obsessed with our future or particularly what this war means to our future. We have no patience to take in the larger meaning, or the personal significance; maybe it's because there are no reality shows, no films or books that have really defined it on a level that gets through the apathy. Maybe this book can try, or at the very least inspire more to serve their country however they define it.