Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm killing my old myspace page; all I seem to ever get on it anymore is obama spam and friend requests from camwhores.  Still, I posted the item below last memorial day on the site's blog and wanted to make sure it was saved somewhere before I put the torch to tinder.  Enjoy.

Memorial Day 2008

"Unfortunately, many of the men who live through the war don't understand why they were spared. They think they are still alive in order to return home and make money and fuck their wife and get drunk and wave the flag.

These men spread what they call good news, the good news about war and warriors. Some of the men who spread good news have never fought -- so what could they have to say about the purity of war and warriors? These men are liars and cheats and they gamble with your freedom and your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the reputation of your country." 

-- Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

We live in a society that glorifies war and violence, for good or ill. You can't drive to the supermarket without seeing a magnetized yellow "ribbon" on someone's car. We support our troops. With magnets made in China.  Sure, it's tasteless and pharisaic, but what else is to be expected from our loyal public?

This is a hard day for me. I've spent most of my morning alternating between sitting on my couch drinking coffee and sitting on my porch chain-smoking, all the while trying to think of a theme to write about. Survivor guilt? Anger at more fucking "sales"? I'm at a loss.

I can't put into words the disgust and joy and hate and pride I feel. It all rolls around inside of you, and the edges are sharp.

I was in an APC in a town called Husaybah a long time ago. I didn't know it at the time, but I rolled right over a massive IED. I don't know why it didn't go off on me. What I do know is that a few minutes later, it exploded and killed a lot of men. 

I've been thinking about that day a lot ever since. I've been thinking about it a hell of a lot today. 

The day after that, still in Husaybah, we were in a blocking position on the outskirts of town. We sat in our APC and sweated until our utility uniforms were saturated. I watched a little girl in a filthy dress several sizes too small creep out of a house, barefoot, to stare at us. Afraid.

That is what War will always be to me. Burning men and scared little girls. 

I'm leaving to go to a Memorial Day ceremony in a few minutes. I wish I had the wisdom to say something that didn't sound cloying and forced, under the circumstances. 

All I can think of is: Remember them. If you do that, then it wasn't in vain.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Memorial Day

I realize that a repost is a pretty weak way to start off a new venture, but it's nearly 2100 and I'm tired.  So here it is.  It's called "Memorial Day" and I wrote it a day or two before Memorial Day proper this year after about the 10,000th radio advert saying, in effect:  REMEMBER THEIR SACRIFICE AND REMEMBER WE HAVE GREAT DEALS ON ANY NUMBER OF BULLSHIT ITEMS THAT WERE MADE IN CHINA YOU GODDAMN SUCKER.

Good God, it rankles me even now whenever I think about it.  But I digress.  Anyway, here it is.

Memorial Day

I'm not sure how to begin.

I often find myself reflecting on my time in Iraq. On days like Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and the Marine Corps Birthday, it practically haunts me. Writing helps some.

This is a 3 day weekend. The "unoffical start of Summer." There will be a lot of partying and camping and revelry, not to mention the fantastic savings you can find at your local Home Depot/Safeway/Mall. For me, however, it's all overshadowed. Like having a birthday party in the middle of a graveyard, you can't appreciate the balloons for all the cold, gray stone surrounding you. 

Memorial day is very personal for me, because I've known a few men that have died. 1stSgt Barnhill, killed by a chunk of metal the size of my fist when it slammed into his head at roughly the speed of sound. Warrant Officer Wells, killed in the same fashion. Lance Corporal Crabtree, his face riddled with shrapnel that destroyed an eye and left him brain damaged. Lance Corporal Forkum, who drove hundreds of miles in Iraq, came home unscathed, put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

There are more. An APC full of men that struck an IED. The ones that survived the initial blast burned amid the grenades and ammunition they kept with them. I can't remember their names. If you want to know the truth, I'm afraid to look them up because as I watched the black smoke rise and felt the concussions from the explosions of their ordnance, my only thought was "I'm so glad that's not me."

There are more. Many more.

I'm not going to feed you a line about how they died protecting your freedom, because they didn't. But they did die in service. They died horrible deaths and I feel sick because they were cheated out of the rest of their lives. I wish it could have been different. 

Memorial day is when I think back on the sacrifices of those that came before me and those I have worked next to. It's painful, as it should be. As it should always be. 

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". The tree of which he speaks does not belong to America, it belongs to humanity. Similarly, Memorial Day (to me) is not simply a day about American sacrifice. It's a day about Humans paying the ultimate price for something larger than themselves, irrespective of nationality. 

I sit here on my couch as I compose this. A hot cup of coffee on the table next to me, my puppy gnawing on the rawhide bone she keeps next to her bed. Music is softly playing from my laptop. I am a lottery winner. If you're reading this, you're likely a winner as well. I have clean running water, electricity, and a roof over my head. I have a video game system. I have polarized sunglasses. I have a shelf full of books and a refridgerator. I am fabulously rich. Wealth beyond what 99% of humanity has ever experienced. I go to sleep at night on a bed with blankets and clean sheets, unafraid of predators, thieves or murderers. 

I have all of these things because other people are willing to fight to keep them secure. On Monday, I will go to a Memorial Day Ceremony and say a Thank You. The recipients will never hear it; they're dead. But I'll say "Thank You" just the same, because I owe them. 

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli.

In Memoriam.

Hoo boy.  That uh...that is one ugly ass block of text.  Well, just think, this was the one and only time you'll ever have to deal with a nasty copy/paste job.  I should have a new post ready by this weekend.  Ideally, I'll be throwing up a post a week.  We'll see how that plan fares as time marches on.

Thanks for reading.