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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Modern Day Edgar Derby

For those that might not know or remember, Edgar Derby was a character in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five who served in the U.S. Army in Dresden, Germany. In the book, Edgar Derby was caught by Germans after uncovering a teapot amidst the rubble of a city where over 135,000 German civilians died in a firebombing raid by the Allies. The Germans executed Edgar Derby for looting. Vonnegut juxtaposed the setting and the "crimes" and the consequences to point out the utter pointlessness and madness of war.

The Wednesday, 5/24/2006 CBS Evening News had a story about a soldier whose experience in Iraq seems to illustrate the same maddening outcomes of war.

Twenty-one year old Specialist Kendell K. Frederick was serving in the U.S. Army Reserve's 983rd Battalion near Tikrit. Spec. Frederick came to America with his mother from Trinidad when he was 15 years old. He immediately enlisted in the Army out of high school and began trying to become a American citizen.

It appears he may have very well been killed as a direct result of his attempts to gain his citizenship and the typical bureaucratic foul-ups of both the military and immigration offices.

He completed paperwork to apply for citizenship but the paperwork was rejected because the Army clerk who took his fingerprints failed to sign beneath the prints as a witness so the forms were rejected by INS. Spec. Frederick was apparently riding with a convoy on October 19, 2005 to Camp Anaconda to resubmit his fingerprints on new paperwork. Instead, his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, killing him.

The United States granted him his citizenship post-humously during his funeral service at Arlington Cemetery.


Sometimes, words don't really do irony justice.