Confusion lingers, as a friend leaves for war

Helena Rodriguez

Today our family friend, Tom Venzor, leaves to go help fight the war in Iraq.
Today, one day after the second anniversary of that horrific day that continues to haunt us through vivid video footage and images, increased terror alerts and a war that continues on.
It’s ironic. We just went to visit Tom and his wife Cindy in Abilene, Texas, a few weeks ago. My daughter Laura presented Tom with an angel, draped in an American flag, bearing his name on it.
It’s an angel that was made at Portales Junior High School by staff and students last spring and was one of many hung on the school walls in honor of all the soldiers that students knew who were fighting the war.
The thing is, we thought Tom wouldn’t be sent to Iraq after all. Shortly after Laura submitted his name and an angel with Tom’s name was hung, the orders still had not come. Tom’s wife and my friend, Cindy, nervously anticipated them but by the last day of school, he was still on standby.
When I went to pick up Laura’s report card from PJHS this summer, one of the secretaries, Sandy Golden, handed me the angel with Tom’s name on it. I felt bad because Tom hadn’t actually been to the war but I thought I should hang on to it in case, even though I was certain the war would be officially over soon. I planned to mail the angel to Tom this summer but for some reason, I never got around to it.
Then we decided to make a trip up to Abilene last month, on the last weekend before school started. And it was a few days before we drove to Abilene that we learned from another friend that the much dreaded orders had in fact come at last.
And so when Laura did finally give Tom that angel, draped in an American flag, it turned out that he would, in fact, be sent with the National Guard to help with the war.
Tom appeared brave. He knew it was inevitable and didn’t complain. He knew it was part of his National Guard duties. Meanwhile, Cindy tried to hold herself together as she told me about some of the preparations they were making for his expected one-year absence, but how does one prepare for something like that?
Two years later, it still doesn’t make sense and may never. Not only the fact that thousands lost their lives in an unthinkable way on one day, but the fact that we’re still fighting a war that we apparently won’t be able to finish ourselves. President Bush chose to go into combat on March 19 without the support of the United Nations’ Council and now he is having to go back and ask the U.N. for any kind of help we can get.
Bush is also being criticized by many senators over the war which has no end in sight. More U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1 than were killed during the invasion.
While only a few U.S. soldiers have been losing their lives in Iraq every day, these people have had families waiting for them at home.
I don’t know what the answer is myself, but I’m a firm believer in the notion that peace cannot be achieved through violence. Then again, we may be living in different times from when that saying was first coined.
I don’t have any better solutions but I wonder why Saddam Hussein has been the target of our aggression and what has happened to Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of Sept. 11.
And I wonder what, if anything, Saddam had to do with Sept. 11.
What exactly will Tom and our other soldiers be fighting for in Iraq and how much will that make a difference in what happened in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001?
Just some thoughts to ponder today — on Sept. 12, 2003 — the day Tom leaves for war.

Helena Rodriguez is the lifestyles coordinator for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be contacted at:
helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com