But make no mistake: The book is not the story of a soldier. It is the hijacked fairy tale of a scared, "prissy" little girl who wanted to be taken care of by loyal friend Piestewa, as well as by her soldier/boyfriend, and worried constantly about being left alone. Such that one is left numbed by the single question that needs asking:
What the hell was Jessica Lynch doing in the U.S. Army?
As most know by now, Lynch wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Joining the Army was simply a way to see the world and secure her college tuition. As a supply clerk, she wasn't likely to see combat - or so she thought - but war is tricky. As Lynch and other members of her company learned, taking a wrong turn can have lethal consequences.
No one can read of Lynch's excruciating, disabling injuries and her terrifying ordeal without being moved. But it is also moving to consider that had she been a male soldier, she probably would have been shot rather than taken to a hospital. There would have been no dramatic rescue, no movie, no million-dollar book deal.
Regardless of what did or didn't happen over there, Lynch's book, movie and notoriety are not wasted, but offer a cautionary tale: A 5-foot-4-inch, 100-pound woman has no place in a war zone nor, arguably, in the military.
The feminist argument that women can do anything men can do is so absurd that it seems unworthy of debate. That some women are as able as some men in some circumstances hardly constitutes a defense for "girling" down our military - and putting men at greater risk - so that the Jessica Lynches can become kindergarten teachers.
Lynch is not so much "a symbol of Bush administration propaganda," as Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times, as she is a victim of the PC military career myth sold to young women through feminist propaganda.
And though not a hero as America once anticipated based on early reports of a fictitious Rambo-style defense, Lynch has done something heroic by making clear that the military is not just another career choice. As an Army officer put it to me, "Our job is to take human life on behalf of the nation."
Too bad it took a broken little girl from West Virginia to remind us what we dare not forget again.
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