I just gave my cousin, Turtle,(I call him “my” cousin, he’s actually My Dearest Husband’s cousin, but there is a Turtle shaped space in my heart that only he can fill, therefore he is mine) the information to get to this sight to read this blog so I thought that I would write some things down that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, that pertain to him and other veterans.
Most of this will be only my own thoughts on the matter and not anything I know as fact, so if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me.
Turtle has served our country in several capacities in several places for quite some time now. I can’t describe him to you physically because, like My Dearest Husband and most of the other people I’m very close to, I don’t really see him with my eyes anymore. I see him with my heart and he is massive.
I can’t begin to imagine the situations he has found himself in or the unimaginable things he has seen or felt. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to suddenly find yourself back home after being in the places he’s been. The culture shock alone would have to be horrendous.
I get so furious when I hear criticism of our troops or security forces like Blackwater by people who are on opposing sides from ours in a conflict. I especially get infuriated by Americans who do it. For the most part these people aren’t there in the situations they are criticising. What they see is the sanitized version that has been edited for content and cleaned up for viewing on television in American homes. They weren’t there when it all started. They weren’t there three hours or three days before when the hinky feeling came over the guys there who are living off of their instincts. They weren’t standing there charged with protecting someone else’s life when the bullets started flying. They don’t know what it feels like, what it smells like, what it looks like, what it sounds like.
If you are bound by your sense of duty to your country, which incidentally is what allows you to be reading this blog to begin with and what allows me to write it-someone else’s sense of duty to our country and what it
stands stood for, and you are sent to fight an enemy of that country and it’s values and rights, then you are bound to fight that fight to the best of your ability. Should you then be expected to lose? Should you be expected to do less than your best? Should you take the time, while someone is shooting at you and the person/people that you are charged with protecting, to sort out exactly who is who? How many guys who are or were in Afghanistan or Iraq have you talked to about what it’s like there? How much do you actually know? How many of the people talking about how awful the poor Iraqi people are being treated in a gunfight have ever actually been in a gunfight? Hell how many have had a gun pointed at them? How many have had one in their hand? How many have seen, in real life, what a bullet can do to human flesh? And that is just a bullet. We won’t even talk about explosives.
How dare you question what anyone does to survive in a wartime situation? Unless you’ve been in a life and death situation yourself, you have NO idea what you would do. I tell you this from experience. And the next life and death situation might turn out different. You simply never know. You might be a hero today and a coward tomorrow and a hero the day after. And eventually the soul learns to just shut down. We are only made to take so much. Eventually we have to protect ourselves. So, even if you have been in a life and death situation, you have no right to judge anyone else.
You take your children and put them in the most alien circumstances on earth, you make them watch, feel, hear, smell, taste the most horrendous things on earth, and then you think you have the right to question them on what they did or how they did it? You infest their souls with the most excoriating things and then treat them like pariahs when they come home from where you sent them? If you haven’t been in their shoes and seen what they saw and felt what they felt, you have absolutely NO right to judge them. Don’t think you do.
If you are so up in arms about what is going on, why aren’t you in the streets trying to stop the fighting? Where were you when this all started? Where are you now? You’re content to hold them responsible for doing what you sent them to do.
It reminds me of one of the most forceful lessons I was ever taught in school It was in Americanism vs. Communism class. We walked in one morning to find a new list of classroom rights written on the board. One by one, as we exercised the rights we were called out into the hall. Eventually we figured out something was wrong. Our instructor then explained to us that under a communistic form of government, the people had more rights than anyone anywhere in any country on earth. But if they were foolish enough to try to exercise those rights they were imprisoned or executed, which is what had happened to those students who had been taken into the hall. (not literally, our teacher wasn’t that gung ho)
We can’t send soldiers into battle and think that the rules that apply in hometown America apply on the battlefield. They don’t. And it’s idiotic to expect them to. You can’t win a war if you’re not willing to fight with everything you’ve got. You might as well just decide to play a “winner take all” game of checkers if you’re going to try to regulate war by television. And let’s face it folks, roadside bombings aren’t exactly playing fair. We are fighting an invisible enemy in Iraq. If you can tell who is who, why haven’t you called and let the Pentagon know? This isn’t exactly a game of shirts and skins here.
The fact of the matter is, if the fighting was going on in Akron, Ohio instead of Baghdad, you would be worshipping at the feet of every American soldier you could find that would blow the head off of an Iraqi. You would kiss the bare ass of every Blackwater employee on earth on the courthouse square at high noon with full press coverage. And you would wish with all your might for 17 dead Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire. And don’t tell me you wouldn’t.
And the next time the network news decides to make you cry over some casualties of war, you might want to try to remember how you felt while you watched the Pentagon burn, or the towers crumble one after the other, or maybe you should try to imagine how that guy felt just before he jumped off one of those towers. The first thing that came into my mind when all that crap started over the civilians killed by Blackwater was that poor man who had a stock trading company in one of the towers. He cried all day on TV over his employees who died. He felt every one of those deaths. It wasn’t his money he mourned. It was the families, his friends, the people who died for no reason other than the fact that they went to work to make a living that day.
I don’t mean to sound callous or anything, but there is a war going on in their country and innocent people will die. That’s really sad. It would suck if it was happening here too. But in my opinion, it would suck MORE if it was happening here. I’m sure they would be happier if it was happening here. I would feel that way if I were them.
What bothers me more than that is the fact that we send our men and women over there and expect inhuman things from them. Then we expect them to come back here where we don’t want to hear about it, we don’t appreciate what they’ve done, we don’t want to pay for their health care, we don’t understand what they’ve been through and don’t WANT to understand, and expect them to just slide right back into normal life, like they haven’t been though hell and back several times.
Cripes we piss me off as a nation. It’s like we sit down and try to decide what the most illogical thought pattern is in any given situation, then go with that! WHAT THE HELL ARE WE THINKING?