I was in a taxi, about a mile from the World Trade Center, when the first plane hit on September 11. I remember the streets of New York being filled with smoke, and people wandering around dazed, like something out of a doomsday movie. I remember the free-floating fear, and thinking, “We are at war.” A few months later, I was in Afghanistan, reporting on life in post-Taliban Kabul. The people there told me about the day the U.S. started bombing their city, and how happy they were to be at war, because now, maybe, just maybe, the craziness would stop, and the Taliban would leave. The Taliban’s still there, and now there are suicide bombings and all kinds of craziness. And I wonder if those people there, the ones that I talked to and befriended, are still alive.
I was in my car, listening to the radio, when we first hit Baghdad on March 19. I remember listening to the sounds of sirens and missiles. Shock and Awe. I remember feeling angry, and thinking, “We are at war. Again.” This time, I didn’t go to Baghdad to cover life post-Saddam. But many of my friends and colleagues did, risking their lives in the process, including Marla Ruzicka, a young, idealistic aid worker that I met in Kabul. Marla was killed in a suicide bomb attack in 2005. Many, many others died there, too. Too many. Civilians, army folks, Iraqis, journalists. Meanwhile, both wars wage on.