The Measure of War

Iraq is a big war, perhaps even a Great War—but it does not feel that way.

U.S. Navy Sailors prepare to depart the ship at Norfolk, Va., after returning from a six-month deployment
photo: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Javier Capella
U.S. Navy Sailors prepare to depart the ship at Norfolk, Va., after returning from a six-month deployment

One thousand and ninety-six days ago, I was in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, as far from America as I then felt like being. When news of the war's beginning hit (almost in real time, thanks to the Internet cafés that ring the town square), the voices of the passersby rose, changed pitch, became angry. Then they settled. I came home three months later, spent the summer on a lake in California, slept through the fall on a couch in Boston, moved to New York, got jobs, got an apartment, wrote. More seasons passed. Seven of my friends got married. Two of my friends broke bones. One of my friends died. The clock ticks and life goes on, but today it needs to be said: Three years is a very long time.

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