The debate over the Iraq war goes on endlessly with people like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh or Vice President Cheney intoning words of “noble sacrifice” and “defending America,” but, in the end everything comes down to a single soldier walking in the hot suns of Iraq. It is easy to insist America will never “appease terrorism” from the safety of a nice room in the White House, but it is another thing to be the soldier on patrol who must daily endure horrible sights that no one should ever see. One such soldier was Sergeant Jeff McKinney who last year had a two month break at home. He sang songs to his new born baby and had long talks about college with his 18 year old son. Instead of a 12 month time period at home, he went back in a few months to the horrible world of Iraq.
July 11, 2007 was a sunny day in Adhamiyah when Sgt. McKinney took his men on patrol. They had gone a short distance when he stepped from his Humvee and yelled: “Fuck this” and then raised his M4 rifle to his chin and fired a single shot. His men were in shock, their initial reaction being that the sergeant had been killed by a sniper but within a few moments they realized he had taken his own life. Spc. Anthony Seashore said in pain, “That’s not First Sergeant McKinney. Never.” But it was, and it happened now.
Sgt. McKinney had witnessed a 500 pound bomb which killed five of his comrades in arms. He had nearly been killed by a bomb explosion which went off near him, he had to counsel a boy who lost his leg and day after day he went on patrols. One day, a soldier found him sitting in an empty shack staring off into space.
Is this the way our society should treat its brave fighting men and women? Is this the way we should send men and women into terrible conditions of war and then only allow a few months of peace and rest at home? They are flesh and blood and can only endure so much before acting in a normal manner. The tragedy is not merely the death of this fine human, but the death of his family in losing a father and husband.