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A weird war

By Martin Savidge
CNN

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Martin Savidge was embedded with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.

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It's my first day back at work after the war ...

I'm filling in for Wolf Blitzer and it's weird ...

Not the filling in for Wolf part, that's a privilege.

But for the first time in 4 months I am wearing a suit and tie. A few weeks ago the only suit I had on was for a possible chemical attack.

So after all that time of dodging bullets and bombs and living with the Marines on the front lines of America's most recent war it's just strange to be back living a normal life.

People here at CNN and at home come up to me and ask questions. The conversation always starts off the same, "So how was it?"

Where do you begin, how do you break it down into a 30 second summation? How do you convey the fear, the exhilaration, the adventure the horror? In short how do you describe a war? The answer is well known to those who've tried, you can't. And the person listening who has not been there can't possibly understand. And thank goodness for that. Which is why I usually say it was "interesting," and I stop at that.

The experience was made even weirder, if that's possible, by the fact that much of the war was reported live. Several times you watched me in the middle of a firefight. It was the ultimate reality TV. I tried to imagine how strange that must have been to the guy at home with his feet up on the coffee table watching and saying "I wonder if he's gonna make it?" I had the same thoughts at the same moment. At that point I wasn't a journalist reporting the news, I was the news, and that was weird.

I remember during one dark moment on the campus of Baghdad University under attack on the air the producer in Atlanta frantically pleading in my ear "Marty, please just keep talking so we know you're all right." For a moment her words eclipsed the sound of gunfire and made a connection I didn't think was possible over satellites and cable TV.

Since I've been home many of my colleagues and even strangers in the grocery store have approached and said how scared for me they were in those moments, that they felt a bond with me in that situation.

I have realized that this new technology that allows reporting from the front has launched a different kind of journalism. It allows communication on a much more human and intimate level.

No longer can I just bring the story to you -- this time you were able in a vicarious way to come along with me ...

That's not weird. It was touching. And thanks for your concern.

It's good to be back.


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