Thursday, September 18

Tour Guide

"‘Join the Army! Travel to exotic, distant lands, meet exciting, unusual people, and then kill them.’ It’s an old joke that’s only half joking. It’s no accident that Western culture’s first bit of travel writing is The Odyssey. Travel and war go together by necessity. My time in service led me to Germany, Kuwait and Iraq. I’ve got friends who, courtesy of the Marine Corps, saw Kenya, the Mediterranean, Thailand, Australia and Serbia. The promise of travel, at least, proved true. I never even saw combat, but I did go to Baghdad and see the much-photographed Swords of Qādisīyah. I didn’t take any pictures there, though. I still had romantic notions of war, and I didn’t want to come back to America with any photos that would let my friends and family mistake my deployment for tourism."