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Shade It Black
Death and After Iraq

I heard the author, Jess Goodell, being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR (National Public Radio) the other day. I have never heard anyone so soft spoken. Her voice was so soothing that literally you could hear the pathos in Terry’s voice—this amazing empathy. What a job Jess had.

Jess Goodell was a Marine In Iraq and worked as a mortuary officer, identifying the bodies of young Marines. She said something like, “We worked so hard to get every single part of the dead.” Interpreted, the body parts of every Marine blown up by an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise). One of her responsiblities was to diagram the body parts of the deceased. If the body parts were not found, she was told to shade it black.

Jess wanted to go to Iraq, so she volunteered for the mortuary job. She says it never got easier with time."I don't think I ever stopped smelling death when I was in Iraq...And at least for me, once I smelled that smell of death, I just couldn't stop smelling it.' After leaving Iraq, she had a hard time adjusting to civilian life. She now wants to help other veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. What a remarkable youngster!

Does the President think about the words of those soldiers like Jess Goodell when making decisions about the future of Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe, because I think he is a compassionate man. But he’ll not be giving the weight to her words as much as the words of the generals and politicians.

I’m going to buy the book, Shade It Black. Unfortunately, Americans don’t want to read about Iraq or Afghanistan. We say we support the troops, but with one percent or less of Americans having a loved one in the military or even knowing someone wearing the uniform, reading about Iraq can hardly be on our radar screen.

Jess’s story is compelling and the country as a whole doesn’t deserve her sacrifices.

Related Articles:

Jess Goodell Interview on NPR

Shade It Black Website

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