Friday, March 30, 2007

I Just Died in Baghdad





How much do think about the Iraq War? If you're like me, as little as possible. Yes, sometimes I catch a hideous news item - 77 dead in truck bombing, 36 corpses found by a substation - and my stomach turns and I get very angry, and I shake my head and feel a sense of awful bleakness. But then I quickly move on and think about something else. Because Iraq is just too depressing. It's like Ulster in the 70s. there's nothing I can do about it - so why ruin my day dwelling on it?

But very occasionally something happens which brings the terrible reality home. That happened to me yesterday morning. I was vainly Googling my name - as egocentric writers often do, to find reviews of my books, etc - and I discovered, from a PA news item, that I had just died in Baghdad.

Put it another way, a soldier with my name, 33 year old Sargeant First Class Sean Thomas of Lycoming County, north Pennsylvania, was killed two days ago in central Baghdad by a mortar attack on the Green Zone, supposedly the safe part of the city.

The more I read about National Guardsman Sean Thomas the stranger it got. His full name is Sean Michael Thomas. My full name is Michael Sean Thomas. He has a new baby, his first, a six month old daughter. I have a new baby, my first, a ten month old daughter. His grieving friends back in Hughesville PA describe him as something of a party animal, outgoing, extrovert - I guess some of those are my attributes too. I certainly like a party.

There is much that seperates me from this other Sean Thomas. He's American, I'm British. He's 33, I'm 43. He's a brave and hardworking soldier, who fought in Afghanistan, twice, before serving in Iraq, twice - and I'm just a comfy writer, who likes to Google his own name.

Most of all, I'm alive, and he's dead: leaving behind his mourning friends, his grieving wife, and a tiny baby who will grow up without a father.

Maybe I should sometimes think about the Iraq war just a little more.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sean might have been a partier in his younger days, but he had settled down quite a bit. The best way to remember him is that he always smiled and he loved to laugh. He had a great relationship with his family and I can't think of one member of our community who didn't have ties to him. We miss him terribly...

Anonymous said...

Sean was a hero long before his death. Not once, yes - not once, did I ever hear him complain. While we sit here and bitch about daily life he was protecting our children, including my four sons, his nephews. He lived life beyond the fullest. He taught me how to love, how to respect, and how to live. I will miss my hero dearly.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all need to think about Iraq a little more often... think about the men and women who are over there fighting for freedom and for human rights. Sean believed in this country and laid down his life to defend it. That is Dignity. That is Honor. It is because of people like him that we are able to sit in our comfy chairs and google our own names or...google the names of our fallen heros. I miss him. He had a passion for life that cannot be explained, living in the moment and never dwelling in the past. I will never forget him and I vow that my boys will know what a true patriot he was, and what a great uncle he was.

Anonymous said...

I am Seans mother and read for the first time your blog on my son. I was very touched and feel like I would enjoy getting to know more about you. You sound very much like my son. There is a book that he will be included in, about 17 fallen soldiers and the after effects on their families. And in that book they will tell about how he lived his life, how he died, and how it effects not just his family, but all who knew and loved him. All soldiers deserve the same love and support that was attributed to Sean. Thank you for taking the time to post this Blog. Diana Thomas