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July 31, 2007
"there were no politics, just actions to do what was right"

Posted by Bill

I just ran across this Marine's blog post from April, in which he paid me a high compliment by linking here. I'll excerpt it, though you absolutely should read the whole thing:

when i returned from iraq, i really had no desire to talk about my experience and my opinion of the war, and to a large extent, that feeling has remained. this isn't because i suffered traumatically and just the sharing my experiences conjures up terrifying memories which haunt me at night. quite the contrary. i've had a couple dreams where i've woken up in cold sweats, but i think that's just a natural occurrence from being in a stressful environment to a more "relaxed" or inane environment where the biggest dilemma you face for the day is what you'll be having for dinner. but its been over a year that i've been back now, in fact its been a year and two weeks, and many of those feelings have become a little diluted and normalcy has returned to my life where i too ponder on what to eat.

today, i read an article that instantly brought me back to April 2006. how i felt after i got off that bus and saw my family. how nervous i felt driving a car so close to others, after training myself to keep a distance from unknown vehicle for fear of bombs and other deadly threats. i remembered how it felt being approached by the ones i love, answering the same question of, "so... how was it?", struggling to verbalize all of my emotions into words that they could understand, and realizing that it was impossible. but i understood that they asked me to empathize with me and share the burden of my experiences, to lighten my load and help me release any feelings or emotions that i had concealed in order to stay alive. although unable to truly explain my experiences, I found comfort in their love and how they tried to understand.

a few days later, my buddies took me out to one of my favorite places to eat where they sell over 30 different flavors of buffalo wings. i had talked about this place for months with my friends in iraq, and i was extremely excited to go. when the waitress came by, I was the last to order, in which I ordered what I had always ordered at the place with 30 varieties, 2 dozen buffalo flavored wings. after i had ordered my beer, she asked for my id, and since i was still using the wallet that i had used in iraq, my military id was the easiest to pull out. she saw it, verified my age, and said,
"oh so you're in the military."
"yeah" i replied
"so did you go to iraq?"
"yeah, actually, i just came back 2 days ago"
"oh really? so, how was it? cause i hear it's so horrible over there. that stupid bush and this stupid war"
"umm, actually, i'm very proud of what i did in iraq. we did a lot of very good things for the iraqis"
"oh well, my friends in the army say it was horrible"
"well, i can't speak for the army, but i'm a Marine, like i said, i'm very proud of what we did"
"oh well, thats cause you're a Marine, and Marines are crazy. my friends in the army say they had to shoot innocent people and kill them all the time"
"well... okay. i'm sorry about that..."
"okay... well i'll go get you your drinks now"
and she left.

think about this. i realized that this person, who had absolutely NO idea of what i had experienced, no idea of who i was, only began this conversation with me because she had assumed that my experience was horrible as her so called army friends claimed. in her mind, there was no other answer that I could have given other than the horror story that she expected, otherwise, why in the world would a waitress start a political question that dealt with the war, with a guy who just got back? she didn't ask me "how was it" for empathy reasons. she didn't ask me to share my burden or to comfort me and the horrific experiences that she assumed i had. she asked me only to confirm her opinion. she asked me only so that i could stroke her own ego and her belief that bush was evil, that the war was wrong, that people are dying for no reason, etc. and when i go against that view, well, it's cause i'm a crazy Marine who kills babies.

since then, i've been shy about speaking of my experiences, because it would only enrage me, not because of their close mindedness and the utter inability to have a normal conversation without preconceived notions that they established by watching whatever news/comedic outlet, but because they enjoy body count. they secretly enjoy when my brothers get killed, why? because again, it reconfirms how oh so right they are. that girl wanted me to go into detail about how my friends had died, and how i was so scared of dying for people i didn't care about. she wanted me to describe all the horrible things that i had encountered, all the pain and suffering that i felt and the those around me had felt, not because she empathized, but because "bush is evil.... i'm right, right? right? right? tell me i'm right."

Read the rest.

PS - Frankin Foer: I hear you've got a writing position open ... how about publishing that perspective?

Posted by Bill at July 31, 2007 04:37 AM | TrackBack (0)

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