It took a long time and several close calls for this piece to find it’s first publication, and now it’s been re-printed by Wising Up Press in their anthology Flip Sides: Truth, Fair Play & Other Myths We Choose to Live By, &, Spot Cleaning Our Dirty Laundry, which poses the question:
This is precisely the question at the heart of this story, my very personal confrontation with my country’s complicity in terrible events.
The editors highlight it as a story about American exceptionalism, which it is, and some early readers have highlighted its confrontation with Christian exceptionalism. I’m still indebted to editor and veteran Max Frasier for helping me get the balance right between respecting and critiquing “our boys” — and girls! — in uniform as I parse the long shadow caste by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
But I hope you’ll also read it as an homage to a teacher I admired, even as I recognized her justified resentment of my presence in her community, and the gentle détente we eventually achieved.