Friday, May 25, 2007

Hostage Search (Memorial Day Edition)

While my views on the war on Iraq are no secret, I've kept them to myself in my daily posts on the search for the three U.S. soldiers kidnapped in an Al Qaeda-led ambush in the Triangle of Death.
I don't typically hold back, but the decision to separate the politics from the people was quite conscious: What I think about the war in no way diminishes my respect for the warriors, especially amidst a profoundly awful occurance such as this.
Having said that, I'm going to kind of break my rule by stirring in another hot button issue in what passes for discourse in America – immigration reform.


Because there have been some astoundingly virulent comments about immigrants at The Moderate Voice, where I co-blog, that need to be put in perspective on this Memorial Day weekend as the search continues for the two remaining missing soldiers -- Private Byron W. Fouty and Specialist Alex R. Jimenez.

Fouty is kind of a funny sounding name, but I don't think he is an immigrant. You can be sure, however, that his forebears were.

Jimenez, on the other hand, is one of those immigrants that people blithely oblivious to the struggles of their forebears or so caught up in their own xenophobic anger are railing against in the reform "debate." One of the railers includes a troll at The Moderate Voice who wrote earlier this week that:
"It is incredibly naive to believe that people who come to the U.S. to send money back to Mexico or South America are every going to become stakeholders. They, instead, will become predators who seek to maximize the benefits that they can get from living here while pushing all of the costs to someone else."
Jimenez, now 25, was born in the Dominican Republic but spent much of his childhood in Lawrence, a city in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts with a large immigrant population. (In fact, it was settled by immigrants, but that's another story.)

Jimenez always wanted to join the military and follow in the footsteps of his immigrant paternal grandfather, immigrant great-grantfather and several immigrant uncles.

Smashing the stereotype that immigrants do not assimilate, Jimenez not only mastered English but learned speak Arabic during his two tours in Iraq with the storied 10th Mountain Division. He received a Purple Heart during his first tour after suffering a leg wound from a grenade fragment.

Jimenenz’s friends describe him as being as serious as his wife, Yaderlin, three years his junior, is light. Then there is Alex’s father, Ramon, whose friends call him Andy.

While my heart bleeds for Yaderlin, I cannot fathom the pain that Andy Jimenez has been feeling since that fateful knock on his door nearly two weeks ago.

Andy, like me, is opposed to the war and like me has participated in antiwar protests. I’d like to think that the Dear Friend & Conscience and I might have bumped into him at the March on the Pentagon a couple of months ago, but that's not likely because nearly two feet of snow fell on Lawrence the night before.
Andy and Alex would argue about the war, but underlying their words was a mutual respect and love.

Andy knows – and you should know too this Memorial Day weekend -- that while the blood of a Dominican courses through the veins of Alex R. Jimenez, he is an American first.

And an American who, sad to say, probably has made the ultimate sacrifice.

* * * * *
Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops are continuing the grim search for Jimenez and Fouty in scorching temperatures in the Triangle of Death.

Units on foot, ever wary of mines and other explosive devices, trudge through mud, canals and tall reeds in the Sunni insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad.

Members of the missing mens' platoon choked back tears at news of the discovery of the body of Joseph J. Anzack Jr. in the Euphrates River, but said they were determined to keep looking for the other two troopers.

Said Private First Class Sammy Rhodes:

"We can't leave them behind. I just hope that they have enough faith to keep them going. What they're going through right now, I can't imagine.''
Added Specialist Daniel Seitz:
"It just angers me that it's just another friend I've got to lose and deal with, because I've already lost 13 friends since I've been here and I don't know if I can take any more of this.''
There has been a marked uptick in U.S. casualties and sectarian violence in May despite implementation of the much-vaunted surge strategy in Baghdad an environs.

Some 83 U.S. troops have been killed this month – the highest daily average since April 2004 -- at a time when the Bush administration and Congress have finally agreed on how to continue funding the increasingly unpopular war. The search for the captured soldiers also has taken thousands of troops out of the Baghdad and away from the surge.

* * * * *

Here's an index of previous Kiko's House reports on the ambush and search:
Thursday, May 24: A Vigil For Joseph Anzack
Wednesday, May 23:
A Body Is Found

Tuesday, May 22:
Ambush Victims Come Home For Burial
Monday, May 21: Hopes Grow Slimmer

Sunday, May 20:
A Flicker of Hope But the Trail Goes Cold
Saturday, May 19: The Triangle of Death Up Close

Friday, May 18:
Who Are the Dead and Missing Men?
Thursday, May 17: Has the Search Impacted on the Surge?
Wednesday, May 16: Anatomy of An Abduction & Search

Photograph © Suzanne Opton

1 comment:

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