Last night was the first broadcast of Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, the new HBO documentary produced by James Gandolfini. The timing could not have been better. I suppose the original intention of HBO was to broadcast this on the Sunday night before 9/11. However, by all rights it should have been required viewing for all those directly (or, for that matter, indirectly) involved with General Petraeus’ delivery of his report in the Capitol today. It also coincided with an Associated Press story, now available through Truthdig, which introduced it as follows:
More and more troops are coming home from Iraq with brain damage, the result of repeated exposure to explosions, and doctors are having a difficult time keeping up. For many, the damage causes problems experts have never seen before and aren’t sure how to treat.
Reading a wire dispatch, however, is one thing; but seeing is believing. Two of the ten case studies examined in the HBO documentary involved known physiological brain damage; and one can only wonder about the others, even if treatment thus far has involved other parts of the body. A DVD is already available; but it is clear that HBO is not in this one for the money, since they have also provided a link to a page for watching the entire film on-line. What is most important, however, is that ten members of our military who barely escaped death have been given a voice; and HBO has allowed that voice to be amplified to the strength it deserves. The only question that now remains is: Who in the Congress (not to mention the White House) will take the trouble to listen to these voices seriously?