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Why Is a Soldier’s Mom Sending Silly String to Iraq?

Because it might be a lifesaver: a soldier can spray the Silly String to look for trip wires around bombs. According to this A.P. article, “Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.”

Silly String is not standard military issue (yet), but rather one of many improvisational tools that U.S. troops have come up with in Iraq. Here are a few more that the article cites: “U.S. soldiers have bolted scrap metal to Humvees in what has come to be known as ‘Hillybilly Armor.’ Medics use tampons to plug bullet holes in the wounded until they can be patched up. Also, soldiers put condoms and rubber bands around their rifle muzzles to keep out sand. And troops have welded old bulletproof windshields to the tops of Humvees to give gunners extra protection. They have dubbed it ‘Pope’s glass.'”

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. My father, like thousands and thousands of others, rushed to join the Army in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. I do not have any data on this, but doesn’t it feel as though Pearl Harbor is remembered less and less each year? This makes sense, of course, as the event recedes further into the past. But it also seems as if 9/11 has replaced it as a national day of infamy. There’s also the fact that the ongoing war in Iraq may have simply blunted the American appetite for war remembrances.

There is a really interesting Pearl Harbor article on the OpEd page in today’s N.Y. Times. It is a collection of excerpts of contemporaneous reports filed by Robert Trumbull, the Times‘s correspondent at Pearl Harbor, detailing the U.S. effort to quickly rebuild the Pacific Fleet after the attack. Trumbull’s reports were never published because they could not pass military censors. Even better than the single OpEd is this page on the Times‘s website, which includes PDF’s of Trumbull’s original dispatches.