Pike County, Ky. – BATTLE SCARS: The photo of the ‘Marlboro Man’ in Fallujah became a symbol of the Iraq conflict when it ran in newspapers across America in 2004. Now the soldier has returned home to Kentucky, where he battles the demons of post-traumatic stress.
The photograph hit the world on Nov. 10, 2004: a close-cropped shot of a U.S. Marine in Iraq, his face smeared with blood and dirt, a cigarette dangling from his lips, smoke curling across weary eyes.
It was an instant icon, with Dan Rather calling it “the best war photograph in recent years.” About 100 newspapers ran the photo, dubbing the anonymous warrior the “Marlboro Man.”
The man in the photograph is James Blake Miller, now 21, and he is an icon, although in ways Rather probably never imagined.
He’s quieter now – easier to anger. He turns to fight at the sound of a backfire, can’t look at fireworks without thinking of fire raining down on a city. He has trouble sleeping, and when he does, his fingers twitch on invisible triggers.
The diagnosis: post-traumatic stress disorder.
I’m not a fan of the war in Iraq. I feel that President Bush is war-monger influenced by his cronies in the oil industry to take control over the lucrative oil fields there. While Saddam Hussein was obviously a menace to allies and otherwise in the region, I don’t believe the role of the United States on the world stage is as instigator of regime change.
On the other hand, I have no problem with deploying all our forces to capture Osama bin Laden. At least Osama actually committed an attack on this country, which Saddam did not. It doesn’t matter how many stupid Americans think Iraq played a part in 9/11, Hussein had nothing to do with it. The facts remain that bin Laden’s organization planned the September 11 hijackings and used Saudi citizens to carry it out. Remember kids, Saudi Arabia is our ally.
It bothers me to no end that we have not captured or killed Osama bin Ladin as of this writing.
The above story about James Blake Miller illustrates my point. War is hell.