Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
These Letters Show How Little War Changes Over Time
Letters home from soldiers offer one of the most intimate windows into wartime experiences. Whether written on parchment paper or in a Facebook message, the recounting of hopes and fears in stories, funny and sad, are an important way to understand something as complex as wartime experiences from a personal point of view. This has been true in the past, even with censorship, and it will be true in the future, too, no matter what form letters take.
With creative prompts including collections of historical letters, the Armed Services Arts Partnership and the Atlantic Council’s The Art of the Future Project sought letters home from a conflict in the 2030s as part of a first-person exploration of what homecoming might be like after future wars. Understanding this point of view is essential to maintaining focus on the human dimension in future conflict; it is often crowded out of conversations about war when the technological dimension dominates.
ASAP and The Art of the Future Project are pleased to partner with Task & Purpose to present some of the top entries from this year’s writing contest. These will be published here on Task & Purpose over the coming days.
The contest received 36 entries, from which judges selected finalists that were reviewed by Maurice Decaul, a playwright and Marine Corps veteran. The contest was judged on a scale of 1, 4, 7, 10, with 10 being the strongest score. Though all of the submitted pieces were formidable, first place went to Brooke King’s entry, “To My Son on His Eighteenth Birthday.”
King’s piece, in the tradition of James Baldwin’s “Letter to My Nephew,” offers the addressee an honest distillation of hard-earned wisdom.
Of King’s cautionary and bracing writing, Decaul felt, “as if the speaker was in the room with me or me with her. As veteran and as a parent, I could empathize with the speaker’s want for her son to not experience war; I have the same want, though like the speaker in King’s letter, I know the choice does not belong to me. The letter is urgent, its diction is urgent, it is almost frantic — King’s letter is so raw, I couldn’t make it out to be fiction or not and therein lies its truth therein lies its power.”
Second place was a letter by Michael Sierra, “Delivery Delayed,” with third place awarded to Karin Lowachee for “War Letter” — both inventive, topical, and inspired.
King is a published author, mother of two boys, and Army veteran who served in Iraq as a wheel vehicle mechanic, machine gunner and recovery specialist. She obtained an MFA and is working on a memoir, “Full Battle Rattle.”
“Though the date is in the future, the letter, I hope, still resonates with past and present conflicts,” she wrote. “A mother being at war, and possibly combat, is now a very real possibility. It was my hope that the piece served not only as a sounding board for what women must face in the coming years and have come face to face with already.”
At least 4 American veterans among group arrested in Haiti with arsenal of weapons and tactical gear
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
The State Department announced Wednesday that notorious ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, a U.S.-born woman who left Alabama to join ISIS but began begging to return to the U.S. after recently deserting the terror group, is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return home.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the employee behind a firearm company's Facebook page decided to goaded a bunch of Marines into destroying their brand new firearms? Now you know.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
If you are in the market for any size of military surplus vehicle, keep an eye on GovPlanet. The online auction house is about to start selling U.S. Navy and Marine Corps surplus M1161 ITV Growlers and seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks.