Restrepo comes as close as it gets to seeing what soldiers experience in war. A veteran I talked with suggested I watch the National Geographic documentary, and it mirrored what he had told me of his own experiences. The constant state of alert. One firefight after another. The unseen enemy. As one young man barely out of his teens says, “The fear is always there.”
When they’re not fighting, setting up outposts or talking with villagers, they watch and wait. One guy sings, accompanying himself on the guitar. Another thumbs through a well-worn magazine. Discordant normalcy. Unlike other wars, these soldiers call home. Their grief at friends’ deaths is still raw, yet they wish their moms happy birthday and assure them everything is OK. Their haunted eyes in the post-deployment interviews say otherwise.