Monday, June 29, 2009

MJ's legacy

A war veteran talks about the influence of Michael Jackson and his music in Iraq.

Some people are genuinely saddened by his death, while others only focus on the scandals that followed Jackson in recent years. Others are saying that the instant media attention being beamed on his early death is distracting from more important issues, namely, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
I disagree. One of the strangest things I experienced in Iraq during my two tours there was the multitude of "Michael Jackson" stories I brought home. I remember watching Baghdad children moonwalk during lulls in our foot patrols to try to get our attention. I remember children waving to us and simply saying “Mike-kal Jack-son” to express affection and get us to look at them.
During a door-to-door search of a Baghdad neighborhood, an entire apartment building was in a festive mood, and one family blasted old Michael Jackson songs which rocked the entire building as we searched for weapons, smiling. On one particular mission, my squad was searching a house in Baghdad for weapons -- a very common mission. The family was eager to invite us into their home, and to make us feel more welcome, they played a scratchy, old VHS tape that looked like it was from the mid-1980's featuring Michael Jackson videos, like Thriller and Beat It. We all looked at each other, perplexed. This was 2003, and Michael Jackson’s music didn’t exactly represent the cutting edge of popular music. We were all in our early twenties. Michael Jackson was already a relic to us. We thought it was about the lamest thing in the world. But the family was proud to display their affection for the King of Pop, and we appreciated their effort to make us feel welcome. Michael Jackson's music touched all people, all over the world.

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