THE BLOG

'Atonement': A Veteran's Journey From Haunting to Reconciliation

10/28/2012 09:09 pm ET | Updated Dec 28, 2012
  • Joseph Bobrow Founder, Deep Streams Institute and Coming Home Project
New Yorker

There is a powerful article in this week's New Yorker by reporter Dexter Filkins tracing the intersections, tragic and redemptive, among the lives of Filkins, Lu Lobello, a marine who served in Iraq, and the Kachadoorian family, Armenian Christians living in Iraq after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. Also check out the interview of Filkins and Lobello on Fresh Air.

Lobello's unit, Fox Company, Second Battalion, Twenty-third Marine Regiment, became caught up in a chaotic and confusing street battle and fired on the three Kachadoorian cars that were carrying the family back to safety after the fail-safe home they had fled to was destroyed by bombings. The marines killed all the males in the family, two husbands and one son. The article vividly describes the impacts of the killings on Lobello and his fellow marines, Lobello's search for Nora and Margaret Kachadoorian, the surviving daughter and mother, and their meeting, set up by Filkins years later in the family's home in Glendale, California.

It is a finely hewn, graphic, and potent account of the emotional, moral and spiritual impacts of war, and one marine's passionate search for meaning and forgiveness. The story also poignantly conveys the anguish of the family and the farther reaches of human forgiveness. Their in-person meeting is not a conflict-free love fest, however; rather, we see everyone struggling with the powerful nuanced emotions and conflicts reignited, as they stretch their hearts and minds toward healing.

Read and listen, weep, feel how war is hell, and understand the arduous journey to true "reintegration," as it passes through unspeakable anguish, through compassion for others and for oneself. This draws on the redemptive human alchemy that can transform ghosts into ancestors.