"These stories should be required reading for the blowhard in chief!"

Letters of sympathy for the grieving family of an American soldier; less sympathy for the offended residents of "The O.C."

By Salon Staff

Published September 12, 2003 7:53PM (EDT)

[Read "I Know God Will Hate Me for This, but God Is Unfair," by Stephanie Booth.]

I extend my sincere sympathy to Rasheed's family. As a former military man who's had to deal with the fallout of immediately unexplained deaths, I do understand how they feel. I feel especially pained for their inability to sanctify his body by washing.

Now for the hard part. Having served, I know that "different" is bad in a military unit. I wish I were talking about something as important as religion, but the truth is, being too smart, too fast at a job, promoted too quickly, etc., leads to hostile attitudes among your "brethren." So, he may have been killed for being "different."

On the other hand, accidents happen daily and people die daily in the military. Ordinarily, you don't hear about it in the civilian world. It's part of the cost of doing the business Rasheed and I did. It happens, though all of us wish it wouldn't.

My advice to this family is to continue to grieve the wonderful man that this war has stolen from them ... to trust the military investigative service to find out what really happened ... to remember their son, cousin, brother and friend as "Smiley" rather than what came home in that box.

And then ... if none of that works, be a squeaky wheel. MAKE NOISE until you get a satisfactory answer. Rasheed -- no less than any other -- deserves a hero's welcome home. He served his country better than I did.

-- Michael Nosek

This young man is accidentally shot twice by his own comrades? In the course of only two years? And after all these weeks the military is still "investigating"? Have the family at least been told whether the same soldier was involved in both shootings? It sounds to me like the military would prefer to sweep this one under the rug. I think the Sahib family should hire a lawyer, an independent forensic specialist, and an investigator. Immediately.

-- Ellen Hoch

Every one of these stories should be required reading for the blustering, rhetoric-spouting, combat-evading blowhard that so cavalierly created them with his blind stampede into war in Iraq.

-- Vernon Dowdall

[Read "Dissed by 'The O.C.,'" by Susan Straight.]

Great commentary but hardly surprising for Fox to misrepresent reality. What I find troubling about this show is the actors. Are these people supposed to look like teens? Or like people in their mid-20s (and up) who just never could quite get out of high school? That's the part that bugs me -- the alleged teens LOOK older than me (I'm 30). I can't imagine what that does to the self-esteem of the young teen set, faced with chronic acne, awkwardness and parents who don't allow them to stay up late on the beach. Thank you, TV-land, for generating yet another possible source of conflict in our homes.

-- Madeline

"It's hilarious to watch California counties, and cities, broken down into easily digestible puzzle pieces for a national audience." What a quaint thought ... even though you're complaining about something that Hollywood studios do to every single state, county and city in the country! Try living in the Midwest (although you probably prefer the term "flyover country") where we are constantly depicted as country fucks with no brains, money, teeth or hygiene!

-- Joan Thomas

I grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, a neighboring community of both Riverside and Chino. Cucamonga, while hardly a bastion of broad-mindedness or affluence, was nonetheless downright cosmopolitan compared to Riverside, which is, in fact, depicted on "The O.C." with a fair amount of accuracy. The Riverside city elders should seriously reconsider their plans to pursue legal action against the show, lest they wish to out-Fox Fox News in the frivolous-lawsuit department.

-- Chris Green

Salon Staff

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