We lift our glasses to the river that has been for a very long time not a river, the river that is reenchanting Los Angeles, the river that will soon power an enormous waterwheel, which will turn right here where we are standing.
No one had to explain to Tim Wymore or LeRoy Torres or any of the other troops and contractors why they couldn't breathe.
The burn pit on Balad Airbase in Iraq had a life of its own. Black smoke and orange flames shot heavenward twenty-four seven. Big as five football fields. Ten acres easy. Lit up the whole night sky. When the seasons changed and the winds died and the air didn't move, the smoke just hung, a stagnant mass over the whole base.
We, as a nation, seem to believe that, win or lose, the war is nearly finished, done with, history. Unfortunately, for hundreds of thousands of American veterans and their families, the war is anything but over.