It was a drama too good to miss, made for TV, if not for Hollywood. So the Pentagon made sure that when Special Operations commandos launched a nighttime raid on an Iraqi hospital April 1 to free a captive US soldier, more than just the troops were rolling. Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the captive, was freed by Navy Seals and captured on video as she was carried out on a stretcher, looking wan and pained but stoic. The Pentagon showed a tape of her rescue to journalists, and soon the story of Private Lynch’s rescue was broadcast around the globe. Just what George W. Bush needed at that moment, with his generals trashing the war plan and casualties from friendly-fire incidents growing.
Maybe it is just what Lynch needed too, getting rescued like that before an audience of millions. She will survive her many wounds and, we hope, mend from the trauma of her captivity. Now when she returns to Palestine, West Virginia, she may have better prospects than when she left for the Army. The Washington Post reported that Hollywood producers were panting at the made-for-TV possibilities of Lynch’s story. Book contracts and scholarship money have been proffered.
Back home in Palestine, there aren’t many jobs or opportunities to speak of. Lynch signed up for the Army before she graduated from Wirt County High School. Wirt County’s un-
employment rate is around 15 percent, so it’s no wonder Lynch–and her brother and sister–joined up. The Army would be her way out, to a college education that she and her parents could not afford. But what she really wanted to do, what Private Lynch had dreamed of doing, her fantasy job? She wanted to teach kindergarten. She wanted to be a public school teacher. Now if that isn’t heroic, what is?
And if her story isn’t ironic, nothing is. A young woman from a working-poor rural family wants to teach children. But she can’t afford the education unless she agrees to participate in an invasion of a country where a quarter of all children can’t get an education. And of course, the $80 billion initial cost of the invasion means even less money from federal, state or local governments for schools and education back in Palestine, West Virginia. But the recruiting stations are sure to be well staffed.