It was another great American exceptionalism that foreign terrorism had never struck such a soft target on US soil before, at least not in the way we thought of terrorism then. Trains and markets were bombed and wars were fought elsewhere, but not here. Two years before, I had been…

A little over a year ago, I read Jake Tapper’s book The Outpost. It is one that will stay with me for life, whether or not I can bring myself to read it again. It’s haunting. It’s heroic. It’s tragic. And it’s as epic as anything Tolkien ever wrote. It…

My grandfather, Lt Col (ret) Earl Gutschenritter’s garden, with my baby brother ‘96

I spent my American summers barefoot in the garden with my would-be-priest-turned-soldier grandfather, turning over grass clippings for the nitrogen for the potato bed, snapping peas on the porch, and flicking June bugs off the eggplants. I’d fill my shirt like a joey pouch of pole beans, curl the runners…

When I was a girl, I loved breakable things. I don’t know who first thought to give a small girl porcelain dolls and glass figurines, a ceramic carousel, a Lenox music box. But they were mine and entrusted to the care of my tiny fingers. …

In 2004, I was finishing my master’s thesis on the potential for democratization in Iran, and 16 years later, the gross characterization remains the same- then and now, and for the years in between- one of missed opportunities. Plenty has been written in the last two weeks. More people have…

My father enlisted in the Army at 18, and while he was never a particularly good soldier (it was the following of orders part), he was excellent at paperwork. That’s how he came to be stationed at NATO in Izmir, Turkey, and how I became what psychologists call “a Third…

April, 1986
Near Incirlik, Turkey

The old Air Force captain was more Turkish than American now. He’d lived so long among the spices and golden eyes, he forgot his American manners. The young American soldiers who came to visit him sometimes didn’t recognize him, thought he was being shifty when…

He’d die,


By his rifle,

Steeped in sweat.

Not disinfectant.

The oximeter, low.

No breath is free.

Each is enlisted.

They wake him

To take vitals.

A prisoner of war,

His blood let,

Not to a lab,

To madder root.

It was lunacy.

Men cut

Easier’n cane

They raised.

The tunnel was only long enough,

For the darkness to be complete.

Cruciform, it parted to three niches.

In each, stone urns of charred flesh.

But on the winter solstice,

Cristel Gutschenritter Orrand

Writer, Principal Consultant at NOVATUM Consulting, Historian, Researcher, Pugilist, Politico

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