'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Pariah 

I was sitting behind the stage at Union Square the other day when a young woman with a cameraman in tow approached me and asked me if she could ask me a “question.” Seldom when I am approached to answer “a” question does it turn out to be just one question and this person looked like she was about 14 years old.

“Sure,” I answered her. With eyes brimming with tears, this was her question, prefaced by a comment:” I am a soldier and I served in Afghanistan, what do you have to say to the troops who are over there?”

I don’t know what told me this soldier was not “pro-war,” she had on jeans and a non-descript striped shirt with a collar. Neither she, nor her cameraman had any anti-war paraphernalia. I think it was her watery eyes that gave her away as being anti-war. I couldn’t be sure though because it has become certain groups and individuals’ life’s missions to harass me.

My heart is always with our troops no matter what these “pro-murder, pro-destruction, pro-Bush” people think. My own son was a soldier and, although he didn’t have any kind of killer instinct and a fear of having to kill someone when he went to Iraq, he was a good soldier and he loved his Army family and proved that love by dying to save some of them. I think most of our troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan to support their “buddies” as a young soldier wrote to me:

“I did not know your son, but we lived on the same little FOB, and I recognize his name, and face. I was infantry, and he must have been in 182 since I don’t recognize him from the other INF. companies.

I hear many people ask why are we dying for nothing. NOTHING, could be further from the truth. We do not fight, and die for a man. We do not fight, and die for a cause, or corporation. We fight, and die for each other, nothing more. I will not have it said in my presence that your son died for nothing. He died for me, he died for his brothers, and sisters in arms. That is why we all fight. That is why we all die.”

I understand that kind of camaraderie and love. There are many people whom I would die for and I would have traded places with Casey in a heartbeat if given the choice. What I don’t understand is a cowardly commander-in-chief and his vice-war lord sending our brave troops to die for each other. Even the troops know there is no “noble cause” other than the bond that glues them together. I have met hundreds of vets from the Iraq/Afghanistan mistakes on down to the Korean War mistake and they all tell me that they would have taken Casey’s place, too.

When the young vet confronted me with the camera in Union Square the other day, I could only speak from my heart. I answered her:

“Oh, honey. It must seem like the peace movement in the US has forgotten about our troops in Afghanistan and the Afghani people. I know that I don’t talk about that conflict enough, although I think that it is morally wrong, too. I know that our soldiers are dying and being harmed there, too. As much as the media doesn’t cover what’s happening in Iraq, it pays even less attention to Afghanistan. However, the peace movement is not united on Afghanistan, because many people think that it is a “good war.” I believe no such thing and I promise you that I will be more vigilant about exposing that war crime, too.”

Then I hugged her and whispered in her ear: “Your buddies deserve honor and attention, too and I am so sorry for what you have had to go through!”

She replied to me: “I am going to send this to my friends in Afghanistan and I just want to let you know that we are all behind you.” That quick exchange had an enormous impact on me and I will fulfill my promise to that young woman.

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