I set out to save lives and have ended up collecting the dead. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of treating people and became obsessed with my own grandiose ideals of service. But there is no redemption in this. I've worked myself into the ground only to end up doing the very thing my parents begged me to avoid. I've ended up serving myself.
All that is left now is to hold on for that day, sometime after the first snowfall, when my deputy will radio me from the grave with the news that our backhoe has finally hit undisturbed earth at the bottom and the last of the dead are back above ground. When I receive that message, I'll drive out into the stubble of the cornfields, stand alone on the edge, and stare down into that gaping hole one last time. Then I'll get go of this millstone of belief and ideals that's breaking my neck, watch it tumble down and sink slowly into the mud at the bottom. I've had it with our humanitarian hubris. Let the dead bury the dead.
Afterward I'll give the final order of my brief but eventful forensic career, this time to the engineer. Bulldoze in this hole and bury my youthful illusions. Then I'll crack open a beer and drink a toast. Farewell death, you son of a bitch. Here's to the rest of my life.
Srebrenica, July 1996