this diary is dedicated to all who suffer because of war and other disasters

image: the bracelet that I have been wearing

cross-posted at DailyKos, Booman Tribune, European Tribune, and My Left Wing.

image and poem below the fold

A Prose Poem About Alan Rowe
by Jerry Soucy aka RubDMC

I never met Alan Rowe. I never knew his name before last November, when I opened the package sent by a group selling black aluminum bracelets, each with the name of a soldier killed in Iraq.

The bracelet in my package said – Capt Alan Rowe Hagerman, ID Marine 9/3/04

I Googled Alan Rowe, and found a press release from the Department of Defense which simply said that Alan Rowe “died Sept 3 due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.”

I read somewhere else that he was going to be promoted to Major when he died, and that he was promoted posthumously.

I found a website called `The Pigstye’ run by a guy named Tom whose motto is “I will not tolerate intolerance.”  A section of Tom’s website is called `The Iraq Page,’ and it’s where he keeps track of every soldier who has died in Iraq.

Tom’s list is detailed and up to date, with each soldier’s full name, rank, age, the date they died, their unit, branch, and state. Every soldier on the list also has his or her own page that includes excerpts from the account of their death carried in their hometown newspaper.

Alan Rowe’s page has a report taken from the Daily Democrat of Woodland, California. The newspaper says that Woodland is “The City of Trees.”

On September 8th, the Daily Democrat reported that Alan Rowe “was born Oct. 3, 1968, in Woodland and lived in Dixon as a child. His father, James, was affiliated with Valley Livestock Transportation in Dixon and his mother, Marian, taught in Esparto. His aunts and uncles are Yolo and Solano county residents, as are 15 first cousins and their families.”

The newspaper continued. “Rowe lived with his wife, Dawn, and their children Blake, 5, and Caitlin, 3, in Twentynine Palms. Graveside services with full military honors are scheduled for Saturday in Idaho, where his both his parents, stepmother, sister and other family live.”
I was 13 years old when Alan Rowe was born, and back then I delivered the three Boston morning newspapers – the Globe, the Record American, and the Herald Traveler. I read the front page, the comics, and the sports section of each one before heading out on my route.

1968 was the year George Wallace ran for president; Denny McLain won 31 games for the Detroit Tigers, and the Tigers won the World Series; there was a battle called the Tet Offensive throughout Vietnam; and three astronauts circled the moon but did not land on it.

The Record American had the best comics, including Peanuts, the Phantom, and Beetle Bailey.

Alan Rowe was just a baby when I was barely a teenager; and he was barely a teenager when I graduated from college, got married, and started a family of my own.

But when I look at the picture Alan Rowe with his wife and kids, I feel like I’m the one who’ll always be a whole lot younger.

He’s standing ramrod straight in that picture. He looks serious, just like you’d expect a Marine to look, just as you’d want a Marine to look. One hand rests on his son’s small shoulder, the other holds his wife close to him. She’s leaning in to him, probably because she’s glad for the chance for them to touch. I imagine that when you’re married to a Marine, you just never know when you might not be able to touch them anymore. His daughter has bright blond hair and a beautiful small girl smile. I think “Daddy’s girl,” even though he doesn’t have a third hand to reach over and touch her, too.

Not long ago I got an email from Alan Rowe’s sister, Diana. Two emails, actually. They came to me from completely out of the blue.

Diana found me through the Internet when she did a Google search on Alan Rowe and came across some comments that I had posted about her brother, about the man, the Marine, I never met.

In one of my comments, I wondered whether or not Alan Rowe and I would have agreed on anything. Diana said in her first email that her brother and I most definitely would not have agreed on anything having to do with politics. That’s OK, I had already supposed that would be the case.

Diana said that she laughed out loud when she read the other of my comments, which went like this:

Whenever I conjure up Alan Rowe in my mind’s eye, he’s always wearing that Hawaiian shirt, looking straight on. I tell him to stop acting like a such a hardass because I’m not one of his beloved Marines, and he can just chill out for once. Besides, I continue, I’m just not buying his act. He breaks into a huge grin and whacks me on the arm. “You’re damn fucking right you’re not one of my men!” he says with a laugh. “Me and my men pick peanuts like you out of our shit every morning.” Then he buys us two more beers.

Diana said that she could certainly picture her brother making the comment about the peanuts. She wrote – I used say to Alan: “Relax!” and he would say (spine straight, jaw hard, mouth tight)… “I am!”

So, here’s what I can tell you about Alan Rowe – he had two kids and a wife; he was “a Marine’s Marine,” according to many who knew him; he was doing his job.

And his name is on a bracelet I’m wearing.

– – –
Google Alan Rowe
DoD Press Release
Pigstye Iraq Page
Alan Rowe’s page at Pigstye
Diana’s web page for her brother

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