A newwebsite where U.S. soldiers can e-mail their observations is attracting personal reflections from soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Set upby Garry Trudeau, creator of the cartoon Doonesbury,The Sandbox is a the "forward position" in the war on terror, he wrote on the site. It's supposed to present"the unclassified details of deployment — the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd."
And soldiers are responding. Capt. Lee Kelley wrote from Iraq that getting mail "becomes a miniature Christmas, a small token or package or gift from a magical land far away that now seems kind of fuzzy in your memory, like Santa and his reindeer through the glass of a childâs globe which has just been shaken."
A captain in Ft. Hood, Texas, wrote about packing up the effects of a 23-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. There were no patriotic materials, no flags or copies of the Constitution.
"She left behind shoes and a television. She was a normal American, or could have been, had she not been killed in Iraq."
A sailor called Tadpole serving in Afghanistan said when war is mentioned in the United States, it's mostly about Iraq.
"Many of us over here feel like the forgotten bastard step-children of war."
"American Soldier," who was wounded in Iraq, metanother soldier who hadbeenworkingon the plane that had taken him from the combat zone.
"I was in and out for the duration of the flight but I remembered his face. What are the chances of that?"
But the crew member was even more pleased. He said he knew what happened to the soldiers in boxes, but was curious about the wounded.
The soldier responded to American Soldier with tears in his eyes: "In the 16 years of my career, I've always wondered about the guys that we flew out. You have made my career come full circle by meeting you."
While The Sandbox is not supposed to be political,observations on U.S. actions do make an appearance.
"But there is no 'winning' here," Staff Sgt. Emily Joy Schwenkler wrote from Baghdad.
"I can see the signs that our government is beginning to realize the same thing," because it's doing the same things the U.S. didwhen it began to withdraw from Vietnam — training the Iraqi army to defend the country, just as the U.S. tried to get the South Vietnamese army to take over the battle against the communists.