From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli
At least the Marines got two place names where they first fought firmly grounded in popular history in the Marine Hymn. I will bet that half of Americans could not correctly place Tripoli in same country as Benghazi. I would wager that even fewer know the meaning behind the reference to Tripoli. They probably have never heard of Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon.
You might have heard of the A Shau Valley or perhaps the Ia Drang Valley. Perhaps of Huế, and certainly of the My Lai Massacre. Maybe you know the name of one the 58,000 Americans that died in Vietnam.
For a decade, hundreds of thousands of Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most for multiple tours. Some have died. More wounded. All marked for life by the horror of war. You may not know the names of any of them.
I wonder how many place names you can name where these faceless Americans have fought? Perhaps Fallujah rings a bell? Maybe Tora-Bora? The news junkies might recall Operation Anaconda. Anywhere else?
Most of the Afghanistan war has been in remote places, places where reporters don’t go. Places that are not important to civilians like the Dai Chopan district.
The Vietnam War was covered daily by all three networks. Even dishonest Dan Rather adopted a military reporter’s dress and covered both the Vietnam and the first Afgan war from safe positions.
I think civilians are more disconnected from this war than any war before. You may not have heard of Peleliu, but it was in the headlines when the Marines landed there in 1944. The places where our military fights now is lost on the civilians.