Kathleen Parker

The real story within the "real" story of Jessica Lynch seems yet untold despite a made-for-TV movie and a book by former New York Times golden yarn-spinner Rick Bragg.

Both the movie, "Saving Private Lynch," and the book, "I Am a Soldier, Too" have sparked discussions about the young Lynch's relative heroism and what really happened to the 507th Maintenance Company to which she belonged.

Family members who lost sons and daughters during the same skirmish that resulted in Lynch's being taken captive have protested her "hero" status. To her credit, Lynch has declined the title, saying she was only a survivor.

Other veterans have contested her being awarded a Bronze Star. Still others object to the enormous amount of attention being paid this single soldier when so many others have gone unnoticed.

The story as told through Bragg's inimitable I'm-just-a-country-boy-who-can-string-purdy-words-together is sweeter 'n Aunt Peaches' corn pone smothered 'n honey and goes down quicker 'n a bottle of Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink. It ain't, in other words, "War and Peace."

Rather Lynch's story reads like the puddle-deep reflections of a girlie-girl filtered through the literary voice of John Boy Walton moonlighting as a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Charles "Resurrect the Draft" Rangel. It covers her childhood, her decision to join the Army, her Iraq experience and her homecoming - all cast in the blue-collar light of Bragg's own famously humble origins.

We learn, for instance, that Jessica's bangs were always perfect and that she painted her toenails fuchsia with little sparkles. Hooah! We also learn that most kids in the Army are poor kids just like Jessi, sons and daughters of single moms, immigrants and blue-collar families who were trading "uncertain futures for dead-certain paychecks."

The book clears up a few of the myths of Lynch's ambush and capture that day last March when 11 others were killed, including her beloved "Roomy," PFC Lori Ann Piestewa, a single, 23-year-old mother of two. The young women were such close friends that Piestewa went to Iraq to keep Lynch company even though she was excused from duty because of an injury.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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