in college, we read all quiet on the western front. in the story, the final scene is Paul along the front line, rising from a foxhole, or maybe a prone position, amidst a barrage of gunfire. this obviously meant certain death, yet it was symbolic in that he had just given up on trying to live after all that he saw. in one of the more powerful, and gruesome scenes, he is described as slipping over the flesh of his comrade, now mixed with a puddle of mud, after a grenade attack.
in 2004, i was called to active duty, and these thoughts began to roll around in my mind: will I give up hope in the desert, and stand, like Paul did? or will I fall to a haphazardly crafted improvised explosive? my girlfriend at the time argued with me the merits of us going to war, that Saddam was a terrible person, and that he had gassed so many of his own people. i had no issue with taking a madman out of power, i simply had issue with the way our government was so clearly pulling the wool over our eyes, using 9/11 as a call to arms and beginning the now infamous “war on terror”. an abstract war, not far removed from the likes of the “war on drugs”. each a platform for a more devious diplomatic purpose: secure the contemporary administrations hold on it’s people. through our torrent of arguments was born an inspiring idea, that i could go to Iraq and have the chance to do something humane. pet a dog, give a child the skittles from an MRE, save a flower from the impending rumble of an Abrams tank. it sounds ridiculous to me now, having heard of events like Falluja, and hearing the war stories of fellow warriors who were sniped at from unknown locations.
i was trained to kill, yet i still had my innocence, in a way. i could feel a vague, impending sense of loss back then. i couldn’t place it then, but now I think I can identify it fully. it was the humanity i would lose if I had to kill another human being.
much like Paul in All Quiet…, when the Frenchman dives into his foxhole and is stabbed instinctively by Paul, I would have felt an insurmountable amount of guilt and remorse for killing another. i’m sure i would have gotten over it as soon as the next RPG was shot at me, or the next sniper’s mark was set on my skull, but therein lies the loss. becoming an actualized killer, when that remorse leaves your conscious being, is a loss far greater than any other. could i really have done any good after losing that ability to reason? wouldn’t i have just become what i was meant to be all along? a pawn in a much larger game?
what did Bush have to fear, anyway? an assasination attempt, maybe. but while Bush spent nearly 1 1/3 of his 8 years (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/02/AR2008030202224_2.html) in office on vacation, our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are in the sandbox witnessing and participating in, the most gruesome war in my lifetime, short as it may be.
is war necessary? sometimes. it was necessary to keep Hitler from killing more innocent people. but was it really necessary to go against the will of other foreign countries to wage what was called an “illegal” war? our forces: 29,000+ wounded, 4,000+ dead. (http://icasualties.org/oif/) iraqi civilians: anywhere between 84,000 and 92,000 documented civilian DEATHS.
i’m not on my anti-war soapbox here, this is just a random rant that pulled me out of bed because i felt like i had to let it out of my brain and into the wild.
i was activated in 2004, and was meant to be deployed to Al-Asad air base. Would I have been safe there? probably. Would I have had to go on security details that put my life in danger? maybe. would I have died on foreign soil as a result of hostile activity? probably not. but those who did, their blood is on the hands of an administration that lied to generate public support for a war that has cost our country far too much and has no doubt lead, or at least contributed to, our current economic hardships. the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer.
it wasn’t about oil (as you can see with our $4/gallon gas prices), it was about keeping a stranglehold on power.
so at the risk of alienating those who would call me “unpatriotic”, or my old military buddies, I’m going to post this on the same website that shares my name. to those that would say I’m not patriotic, i can honestly say I’m grateful for the freedoms I enjoy, and for the ability to voice my opinion on those things i see as wrong. that, my friends, is democracy, and i am a practicing member of it.