There is only one word that can describe these two books, and their author, Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman: Wow!
Given the title of the books, as well as the cover pictures, it is easy to get sucked in to believing these are stories about a remarkable dog. That is not the case.
In From Baghdad with Love, Kopelman does tell the reader about the rescue of Lava, a stray puppy from the streets of Falujia, however, the rescue is told in the context of the war and Kopelman’s, as well as other Marines’, experiences. Being The Crazy Dog Lady, one would have thunk my focus would have been on Lava, however, all energies and worries actually went to Kopelman and the other soldiers.
Kopelman’s, sometimes humorous, sometimes graphic, commentary takes the reader to a place none of us want to go, with the people who have gone there on our behalf. And through all the horrors, frustration and powerlessness, there is this little rat mutt who gives a little bit of normalcy and comfort.
I am not clear on whether this particular Marine found his humanity through Lava, or if Lava helped him hold onto his humanity, but the end result was the same. Lt. Col. Kopelman came home human, despite the odds. Indeed, he left Iraq more human than he arrived. And he came home with a little dog that lit the way.
In From Baghdad to America, the journey continues, but in a different combat zone: That of a soldier who has been to war, trying to re-integrate into the society he fought to protect, a society that doesn’t understand the effects of war.
This time, Lava is the connection to the past, those events which changed Kopelman forever. It isn’t so easy to for a soldier, living under constant alert, with no real control over events, to suddenly turn it off, despite what society believes. Where in the first book, Lava helped Kopelman stay human, in this one, Lava shows Kopelman that the human condition is not perfect, but imperfection is OK. Watching Lava work through his demons, inspires Kopelman to work on his own.
I Highly recommend everyone read these remarkable books.
And while you’re at it, please remember the war is still going on, even though it rarely shows up on the news anymore.
Thank you to all soldiers, past, present and future, for your service.
Please visit the following websites to find out more on how you can help our soldiers:
Please also look locally to see where you can help!