Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Thursday, December 16, 2004
War's Cost

Pfc. Alan Jermaine Lewis, 23, a machine-gunner,
3rd Infantry Division, wounded July 16, 2003, (C) Nina Berman

This morning, as we find ourselves nine days from Christmas, I want to consider our courageous soldiers and the men who have, so casually, thrust them into a harm’s way unlike any other in American history.
Rummy, in his shameful temporizing and cowardly effort to blunt Army Specialist Thomas Wilson and other brave soldier’s forthright questions and thundering applause, said:

You go to war with the Army you have…

At the time, this flip and too-cute remark only seemed a callous attempt at bureaucratic ass covering and, in what has become a stand-by for this denial-rich administration, shifting blame to a previous presidency.
In the cold light of a not-unexpected report in this morning’s New York Times and in a series of excellent but extremely troubling articles and photo essays on the always superior Digital Journalist site, one can see that Rumsfeld’s flippancy, in addition to crass cowardice, tears another grievous psychological wound into the collective flesh of the already suffering American soldier by, in essence, blaming the soldier.
After all, they are the Army we have; the Army not quite up to breathing life into Rummy’s light and lean fantasy.
The Times article details the soon to arrive flood of soldiers suffering from mental as well as physical wounds and the already-stressed veteran healthcare system so poorly maintained through the glorious offices of our current “war president”:

An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans…Psychiatrists say the kind of fighting seen in the recent retaking of Falluja …is tailored to produce the adrenaline-gone-haywire reactions that leave lasting emotional scars…the Government Accountability Office found that officials at six of seven Veterans Affairs medical facilities surveyed said they "may not be able to meet" increased demand.

The article goes on to give several examples of the long-term suffering our young people and their families have only begun to experience.
The Times report is important and is a must read, most specially, in this holy Christmas season.

Marine Lance Cpl. James Miller

The superb Digital Journalist site, updated monthly, contains several excellent reports and photo essays that lend further support to the material presented by the New York Times.
In the Thousand Mile Stare, Luis Sinco, the photojournalist who snapped, perhaps, this Iraq war’s most personally searing image of battle, provides insight into the travails of modern battlefield soldiery by describing his participation with Charlie Company of the First Marine Battalion, Eighth Regiment and the events that lead to his taking the now world famous photo of Marine Lance Cpl. James Miller.
In Disposable Heroes, Peter Howe describes how this image of the battle weary Lance Corporal was manipulated into a completely different context.
The Purple Hearts Gallery will break your heart with images of the ghastly physical wounds now suffered by returned veterans.
Please visit the Digital Journalist site and, if you are able, toss them a few coins for journalism as God intended.
The politics found within the various articles ranges across the wide American and global spectrum within material that can be quite painful to read.

A New Cookie for Christmas

Around this time of the year I begin to crave dates.
Pillsbury used to distribute a wonderful date bread mix that, sadly, for myself and the store managers I’ve pestered, is no longer available.
My grandmother, who annually created hundreds of wonderful Christmas cookies, made a rolled date cookie that was wonderful.
While her possessions were prized, no one must have considered her vast trove of recipes worthwhile for they along with her wonderful cookie tins vanished following her death.
Because of her, I associate the fruit of the Phoenix dactylifera with the Christmas season.
Last evening, my date craving at a fever pitch and having several unhappy encounters with date quick bread recipes, I began to experiment with a new date cookie.
My result, while different from my grandmother’s cookie, is a chewy success filled with one of my favorite Christmas flavors.
Be kind to yourself and make this cookie!

Chewy Date Pecan Cookies
Oven 375

1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, softened
¾ cup Light Brown Sugar
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Mexican or South American Vanilla
2 ½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
¼ Tsp Salt
1 cup Dried Dates, chopped
1 cup Pecans, chopped

Sift Flour, Baking Soda and Salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine Butter and Sugars in a large bowl and beat until creamy and doubled in volume.
Add Eggs and Vanilla until combined with mixture.
Slowly add Flour mixture to Egg, Butter and Sugar Mixture and beat until thoroughly blended.
Add Dates and Pecans.
Scoop batter with a table or teaspoon and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet…if you dip the spoon into a small bowl of warm water between drops the mixture will, more easily, drop onto the cookie sheet.
Bake cookies on the center rack of a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Allow cookies to rest, once they are removed from the oven, for about 30 seconds before moving them to a wire rack to cool.
Depending upon the size, this recipe makes about 25 to 40 cookies.

Photos: Nina Berman, Luis Sinco,

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