Thanks a lot Esquire

April 18, 2008

Oh dear lord. I was up till 2AM last night sobbing reading the new factpiece in this month’s Esquire, “The Things That Carried Him.” It’s a mountain of an article (took me the better part of an 1:15, reading slowly to take every word in), so I won’t tell you have to read it, but my God, you should. Holy shit. I mean, just, holy shit, dude. You want something that will wreck your life?

The gist is: Sgt. Montgomery died in Iraq. I didn’t give away the ending — that’s pretty much revealed in the first sentence. The entire article is a reverse chronology of the process of bringing his remains from Iraq to burial in small-town Indiana. So, it starts with the funeral, then to the wake, then to the police escort of the hearse from the local airport into the town, from the local airport to the air base in Dover, where the body was painstakingly prepared and embalmed, from Dover to Baghdad, from Baghdad to the single mission where he’s killed. As the timeline progresses backward, we learn about Montogomery, his life, who he was, the tragedies his family had come to, so that when we reach the end of the story and we finally see him being killed… it’s almost as if you didn’t expect it. It’s almost as if they tricked you into believing he was still alive.

I guess it’s easy to lump dead soldier stories together these days — widows, yellow ribbons, funerals, folded American flags. It was easy for me to want to skip by, as awful as it sounds, when I saw this: “Oh another dead soldier. Drag.” Seriously. And then you just read this shit and it just magnifies two-thousand-fold into one of the most intensely and profoundly sad and humbling stories. Seriously, I was at a loss for words.

Again, I’m guilty of hyperbole like the rest of them, but holy shit dudes. Just holy shit. I haven’t read something that has blown me clear out of the water (poor metaphor, sorry) like this in a while. Every now and then Esquire gets a little too douchey for me, but then they put articles like this in and I’m just left a blubbering mess.

And if you make it through the whole thing, you can reward yourself by a look at Jessica Simpson’s cans (plus her Joe Simpson man-face) a few pages back.

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