Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Person of the Year
To Everything (Burn, Burn, Burn)
They swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets pot-holed with skepticism and rancor. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and good will, in a region unused to democracy. The U.S. G.I. is TIME's Person of the Year
For uncommon skills and service, for the choices each one of them has made and the ones still ahead, for the challenge of defending not only our freedoms but those barely stirring half a world away, the American soldier is TIME's Person of the Year.
[...] The 1.4 million men and women on active duty make up the most diverse military in our history, and yet it is not exactly a mirror of the country it defends. It is better educated than the general population and overweighted with working-class kids and minorities. About 40% of the troops are Southern, 60% are white, 22% are black, and a disproportionate number come from empty states like Montana and Wyoming. When they arrive at the recruiter's door, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told TIME, "they have purple hair and an earring, and they've never walked with another person in step in their life. And suddenly they get this training, in a matter of weeks, and they become part of a unit, a team. They're all sizes and shapes, and they're different ages, and they're different races, and you cannot help when you work with them but come away feeling that that is really a special thing that this country has."
Pvt. Lynndie England, the American soldier at the center of the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, told News 4 reporter Brian Maass Tuesday night that her actions were not only condoned but also applauded by her superiors.
Army reservist England, 21, is featured prominently in several of the photographs showing prisoner abuse.
"I still can't really believe it," England told Maass, referring to the photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison. "They just told us, 'Hey, you're doing great. Keep it up.'"
Referring to the photograph of her smiling, England said, "I was told to stand here, point thumbs up, look at the camera and take the picture."
Maass asked England who told her to do that. England replied, "Persons in my chain of command."
When asked by Maass what she was thinking at that time, England said, "I was thinking it was kind of weird."
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