Mike Leno July/August 2003
I guess I live in a protected environment. It's called middle-class America. It's a good place to live—I'm not complaining! But little from the outside world touches us here. We express our opinions, we work, we live our lives, and we watch the rest of the world on television while eating dinner. We hardly ever see firsthand the effects of war. Then last weekend the war in Iraq became a real-life tragedy for us, right here at home.

When my cell phone rang that Sabbath afternoon my wife, Sondra, and I were in the living room, relaxing after participating in the morning's religious services. The broken, urgent voice on the phone suddenly extracted me from my little cocoon of safety and introduced me to the hell of war's fury. "They've killed my son! They've killed my son!" the voice sobbed loudly. Jorge Rincon was so upset he could not give me intelligible directions to his house. Later, after talking to his neighbor, we found our way to his house in a relatively new subdivision. Walking down the driveway, we heard the sound of wailing.

For the next several hours my wife and I were immersed in a grief so profound and intense, I doubt that I will ever watch media war coverage in quite the same way. No longer will suicide bombings and war casualties be just abstract numbers. No longer will the video and still pictures from war correspondents feel like action scenarios in a television war drama.

And no longer will I cheer on the troops in the same way one would cheer for a favorite football team. I support the troops. And I feel as patriotic as anyone. But giddy, happy cheering might have to wait for a while. This was not entertainment, even though the most terrible news is often packaged that way in the media. This was real life—and real death.

Jorge Rincon came to the United States from his native Colombia 14 years ago. His memory of the dangers there remains vivid. He remembers leaving his children in a parking lot because he was not allowed to take them into a government building. Once in the building he had to evacuate his children from the parking lot because of a bomb threat. And a little later someone succeeded in detonating a bomb on that very spot.

Jorge left a land in the throes of conflict with the Medell
Article Author: Mike Leno