The Importance Of “Seeing” The War




The most shocking, and simultaneously compelling, aspect of the Baghdad dispatch in the New York Times this past Monday was its intimate close-up of one soldier’s death. It was impossible not to feel frustrated by the story of Hector Leija, an Army staff sergeant who was struck down by a sniper while on a sweep through the apartments of the once posh Haifa Street. He was killed by a single bullet that came in through a kitchen window. The drama that ensued of getting Leija to a medic and then retrieving his gear, still on the floor of the now lethal kitchen, was captured by the embedded Times reporter, Damien Cave, with all the narrative tautness of a Hemingway short story. A shaky video later posted on the Times Web site further captured the panic of the moment and the despair of men who had lost a beloved leader.