Today they brought someone home from Iraq, and his unit mustered at the Veteran’s cemetery here, and I saw them from the window of the train as it went from the Veteran’s hospital toward my home. And I thought of many things, especially of the costs of war, of stuipidity, and young men and how we felt when we fought it. Here is a little prose about that.
I find it terribly absurd to think that all my memories are real, especially those dealing with the times of war. I can remember when I would put on a heavy combat ruck and move through the most dense jungle on earth, cautiously and with much labor, traveling with young men like myself, moving less than a kilometer a day in search of ways to kill other young men. Daily, we would move against this oppression of infinite hardship, killing and destroying, being killed and destroyed in turn. Endless weeks of vicious boredom marked by a minutes horrible agony. How we joked of the ways we could suffer, and loved one another with a mean affection and a deadly touch.
Soldiers and fighting men we were, all from the ancient ages of 18 to 23, except the platoon sergeant, he was old, almost 30, and the Captain only a year younger. We had seen more violent death on our walks in this country club than most cops could claim; and in the third world squalor of the villages, more disease than most doctors even imagined. We had illiterate privates who could diagnose malaria, plague, polio, and 3 or 4 malnutrition diseases.
It came down to whatever we could handle, all the late hours of hanging out in our own skulls, strolling carelessly to the sounds of hidden memory. Denying whatever might cost. Most of the books deal with coping, with being able to handle life, belief, ability and desire. I thought in terms of revenge.
Once, we celebrated Ho Chi Minh‘s birthday. And then, he won.