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July 22, 2004

Slang of the Week: the sandbox (noun)
Iraq (US military slang)

After being stationed in the sandbox for six months, Janice thought she might never be able to enjoy the beach again.

Celebrity quote:
“The soldiers who are deployed feel like they are making a difference. They say, ‘Where I am, in my little piece of the sandbox, I am making a difference,’ and you feel good about the difference that you're making. There may not be a lot of coverage of the good things happening, of the schools and governments opening and being rebuilt, but they are important to the people there.”
- Brigadier General Leo A. Brooks Jr.

Iraq was also a newsletter topic back in April, but then it was actually slang for a place in New York. This time it’s the real thing. Although the country gets its nickname for obvious reasons, it is hardly the only sandy place in that region. On her weblog, one soldier stationed in Kuwait described a sandstorm so severe that she could hardly find the outdoor toilet from her tent thirty feet away. But despite all the sand, she later remarked, “This changing weather reminds me of Arkansas.”

Another place name used in Iraq is Fort Apache. While many historical events took place in the late 1800s at the original fort in Arizona, the meaning of this phrase comes from the 1948 movie of the same name. Henry Fonda stars as the outpost’s military commander whose arrogance and lack of respect for the Native Americans creates tension and ultimately leads to a massacre of his troops.

These days, Fort Apache is used to describe any isolated police or military post in hostile territory. In 1981, Paul Newman starred in Fort Apache, the Bronx, the story of a police officer trying to keep the peace in a violent neighborhood. Not surprisingly, a number of US outposts in Afghanistan and Iraq have been given this name as well.

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