Plemons was tall and skinny and good-looking, with light brown skin. He had joined the Army late, at twenty-seven, after discovering that his master’s degree in writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro didn’t make him employable. “I wanted to pay off some debt and also be part of this war,” he said. “Whether it’s our war or Obama’s war, I’m kind of glad the focus is on Afghanistan. Not so much fighting war as providing security. I believe in the United Nations and NATO and the diplomatic side. It’ll take a couple of generations for real progress to come about.” His attitude made him “what the Army calls a liberal douche-bag—a term of endearment, I guess.” He went on, “A lot of guys here are eighteen, nineteen years old. They were twelve years old when 9-11-2001 happened. They’re ready to be warriors, they’re young—part of it’s posturing. They want to make a difference in the way they can, and the way they were trained to is to fight.”One of my very best friends (and a personal superhero) is interviewed this week at the New Yorker's "Interesting Times" blog about his service as a medic in Afghanistan.
Plemons had been one of the speakers at the service. I had been struck by his remarks. He had said that soldiers had “dual lives” and had to hide one of their identities from their loved ones, “like superheroes.” He had concluded, “We cannot be swayed by feelings that could corrupt us: feelings of guilt, anger, and revenge. In the end, grief shall not take us, and we shall remember.”Come home safe.