Ghosts of War

Jack Finis
E405- 1st Hour
Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson
Essay Question #7
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, a young normal teenager, Ryan Smithson, was sitting in American History class. As his teacher went explaining about the tragedy that had occurred in New York City, Ryan knew this was his call that he was to join the Army one way or another. He thought, “If I don’t do something, who will?” He felt an anger that in turn was his calling to duty. Throughout this novel written by Ryan himself, he has day to day interactions with the underprivileged and abused of Iraq’s countryside. Every action in his story he has to tell has molded him and his feelings toward America’s war on terror.
This novel portrays the good, the bad, and even the ugly of the second war in Iraq. In my mind, there are so many options to choose from to use as the main theme or message of the book. Heroism and patriotism are clearly shown in Ryan’s life, better yet in any “ordinary” soldier. One specific example showing his patriotism was when he was on a mission when he came upon many children crowding his Humvee. They were begging for water and the soldiers were taught to not give any food or drink to these children, but Ryan disobeyed that rule and gave them Gatorade from his Humvee. He knew this was the right thing to do because his patriotism was based on his mindset and how he portrayed his country through positive thoughts and heroic deeds throughout his time in Iraq.
War has a long lasting effect on every solider. This is very important and resembles the theme of this novel, which in turn is simply to have the courage to step up to the plate when you are called or most needed. In Ryan’s case, he stated that even after leaving the war zone, he is still haunted by the ‘ghosts of war’. He told us, “I’m grateful for the worst in humanity, because it’s the closest I’ll ever get to understanding the best in humanity. I’m grateful for my moments of insanity, because...