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August is Hell

September 1, 2011

Rayburn House Office Building is the ideal place to start a Capitol Hill tour. The security line is no longer than Cannon or Longworth, but this is where most House Committee hearings take place. When you walk into the East entrance, you are surrounded by black stone with names etched into the walls in gold. Thus far, there are 6,228 of them.

Each of the names represents a fallen soldier from Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. I used to ask students as we waited in line, why would such a memorial be placed here? Right around the corner, to the right, is the House Armed Services Committee.

Last month was hard on our military. Troops in Afghanistan saw the highest casualties in over a year. In one tragic day, we lost 30 Navy SEALS, seven Afghans, and an Interpreter.

It is a common refrain in the District that “August is Hell.” The original August recess was born from necessity, the first Congressmen faced hundred and teen degree days, ungodly humidity, and no way to cool the marble halls. I used to tell students to imagine sitting there without air conditioning wearing wool pants, socks, an undershirt, heavy coat, and fashionable wig. Knowing women keep not only a pair of heels in their desks, but also their jackets and a spare blouse. I used to get “She must be an intern,” looks on the metro from tourists when I stepped on wearing a thin tank top and my sorority flip-flops, that is until the car was packed with other scantily clad ladies getting off at Cap South.

But you can’t compare this heat with that in the Afghani desert.

When Delta got the orders for this deployment, he didn’t tell me where he’d be going. It’s pointless, he said, you’re going to call everyone you know who’s been there in the last few years and by the time I get there everything will have changed. Well, he was half right.

In Iraq, August was the first month with no American casualties. Zero. None.

I want to celebrate this, I want to be filled with thanks and optimism, I want to believe that the surge removal will go as planned. But instead I am filled with guilt and fear.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 2, 2011 11:28 pm

    I think it’ll be awhile before that fear leaves any of us who are affected so directly 😦 Thanks for linking up.

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