dwolfhunter: (Woof2)
Proof that it never goes away...the other day. As I was walking in Philly' I saw a face I knew. I shouted his name and began walking toward him. I repeated his name several times as I approached him. "Hey manno, it's ME, Sparks! Dude, it's ME!" The young Hispanic man looked at me like I was out of my frigging mind...and he was entirely correct to do so. The name I was calling him by was that of a man who died in the 80's/90's. A man I saw die, whose blood I wore for days afterward. A man who served with me in a "very bad place". The young man was ok after I had apologised and explained that I had taken him for someone else. I went home and unashamedly poured myself a drink to calm my nerves. It never really goes away.
dwolfhunter: (Default)
Odd how you can come home, take off your uniform, hide it away. Burn your medals and most of the photos you took and all the mementoes you thought were important when you got them...and still be haunted by the deeds that they represented. I hate feeling like this.
Some ditz at a wine and cheese salon once mentioned that : "all soldiers were mindless souless killers who had no remorse for having done what they did at war"...she did this in front of me and in front of my host Orrin who knew my story well...he was only too amused to hand me the talking stick so I could set her straight. I said to her: "I don't know their names...and I didn't keep count( which truly would have been soulless and vile)...but I assure you in no uncertain terms that I can see the faces of many of those souls I ended. See them as clearly today as I did then."
I went on to inform her that I was neither mindless, nor souless...for a given quantity of either. Killing is not easy but after a while, it gets to be something you can work through in order to do the job, it hurts, but you move on. After that you can supress it for quite a while and feel it years afterward. And it hurts.It eats at you.
Be aware that I gave this description to her in a level, calm and very clear voice occasionally quavering with supressed emotion. Expressing both my horror at her lack of understanding and my disdain for her unthinkingly hurtful words. When I was done she was crying and much abashed. The other veterans in the room(there were two others, one of WW2 and another of VietNam) got up and shook my hand...embracing me as I cried too. They said nothing. They let me speak because it was closer for me...fresher, their hurts years older and years more down the healing road than mine.
Now I find myself hearing the stories of young soldiers from the Gulf and the Stan...and feeling the way the old salts at that salon must have felt. It still hurts at odd times. More some times than others. And sadly I find I still need to speak about it. I am starting to recognise the words "There's so-and-so, he's been the places you've been and done the things you've done...but he's still hair-trigger" as a supreme compliment. I also know that I slip and fail to control my bete-noir too. More than I should...more than I want to. And that's what hurts.
dwolfhunter: (Default)
Some time ago, as things are reckoned, I had chance to serve my country as one of her soldiers. Like many others I left my home and was sent to foreign parts at the behest of men who wrote orders but seldom saw them carried out in person. I remember us, celebrating Christmas in some real “garden spots”…and somehow always making a decent attempt to live in the spirit of the season.
My brothers and sisters in arms have kept Christmas in frozen redoubts and stinking rainforests. They have drunk Christmas cheer in bunkers and foxholes, missile silos and hospital tents. Every last one of them/us missing home; and loved ones and the charm and safety of the season.
Today, Christmas Eve, I sit in my warm office being relatively comfortable…and I am reminded of Christmasses past. I take this time to acknowledge the soldiers who celebrated Christmas at Petersburg and Belleau Wood. Who sang carols, sometimes with their foes, at the Somme and
the peninsula. Who stood guard at Panmunjom or flew Christmas Eve CAP in the gulf…Tonkin or Persian ,matters not. I say a prayer for my brothers and sisters who sat to Christmas chow in Tikrit and Falujah…or from Valley Forge,Bastogne ,Da nang or Ypres.
I am moved to tears when I consider these folks who went before me and who came after me.These men and women ; so young, so far from home and so willing to be exactly where they are…or were. So tonight, when you raise your glass of Christmas cheer, call them to memory
You celebrate ,because they serve. You rejoice in comfort because they suffered. You celebrate because they bought your freedom and ease oftimes at a cost that is unthinkable and unbearably sad to count.Don't forget your soldiers,sailors,marines airmen, policemen, firemen and medics. They will not, did not, forget you. Merry Christmas.
dwolfhunter: (Default)
As I have oftimes observed...this is a welcomed day off work for many. Indeed, the telly is full of veterans'-day sales and such like...my co-workers are spending time with their kids and not paying any attention whatsoever to what this day REALLY means. like most holidays...John Q. Normal would much rather forget the spirit than remember and keep it holy. Such is the way of the typical American civilian when regarding Veteran's Day.
Sacrifice and service, Duty and honor...they ring hollow when the speaker has never had to put those words (with their attendant baggage) into practice. They are regarded by most as outmoded and un-helpful concepts. Their proponents regarded as hopeless boy-scouts, fanatical patriots or lumped together with the lunatic fringe of ultra-nationalist idealogues. I can answer that treatment with the following quote "Si vis pacem, para bellum.". "If you wish peace, prepare for war."
This country's average citizen would rather forget entirely that the soldiers they regard as "other" or "hyper-violent" or "dangerous children bent on homocidal aggression" are also someone's Father, Mother, Sister,Brother, etc... It's easy to be down on the military when you regard it as a thing of the past. When you discourage your kid from joining "because they are meant for something better" or because "The Army (or any other service) is beneath them. To which I respond with a hardy "F___ You!"
A person, a true citizen, is one who is willing to put his life on hold and in jeopardy, in order to secure the average Americans' right to piss and moan about their lot in life.I would argue, that if you haven't served your country...you have no right whatsoever to scorn those who have. A true citizen of this country recognises the need for young men and women who are willing to fight , serve, work and die for the things the civilian regards as the essentials of normal life.
It's easy to ignore the soldier when he is far away and not seen but as a statistic or an image on the telly. I see them as my friends. My friends who have led,or been a part of Marine rifle teams, Army tank platoons,Land-mine clearing opperations, Navy sea, land and air actions, Air Force combat, logistics and search & rescue ops. I see them as Army lab technicians and medics, Army infantry and artillery men and every last fucking one of them a genuine dyed in the wool hero to this messed up agglomeration of whiners, sunshine patriots and fair-weather Americans. And yes, before you ask, I DO think they are better Americans than you are.
If you can't or won't serve your country... could you at least do the following?:
VOTE
volunteer in your communitues, hospitals,civic service organisations
support you local VFW and American Legion
Do what you can to make your town, your state, and ideally your country the best it could be.
Put aside your bullshit political grandstanding, tea-bagging and self -serving and be about the business of making this country fit again....because , I assure you, everyone who has ever fought,served and died for it...did so with that in the back of their minds. I say "In the back of their minds" because the front was usually involved with things a tad more pertainant ...like survival. But I'm sure y'all will agree, right?
When I say God Bless America...I am never being ironic. I am in fact entreating the divine to bless my country. I am also begging my fellow Americans to do so...but I would remind them that the divine helps those who help themselves.
dwolfhunter: (GONNA GETCHOO SUCKA!!)
To the vast majority of Americans, Veterans Day is nothing more than a day off of work. The memory and spirit of the day once known as Armistice Day is utterly lost on them. Today at 1111 hrs. , in a railroad car at Compiengne, France the "War to end all Wars" was ended by surrender of the Imperial forces of Germany to the Allied Powers. Fail. Epic fail.

War is an inevitable part of the human condition. Soldiers will arm themselves at their governments' commands, and go to face the foe until the end of time. To fight and win or die as fate intends. To me, and many like me, Veterans Day(or Remembrance Day if you're of the Canadian persuasion) is a tad more poignant. Sure it's a day off of work, and no mistake, that's a fine thing. But it's also a time to contemplate the nature of our service to a country that doesn't like to be reminded that it's had to kill and fight and spend lives to get where it is today. A country that likes to indulge in blindness and memory loss if a war goes on for more than six months-once the "Shock and Awe" fades.

The veterans of America's wars do not forget that we are at war across the globe; in two of the most pestilential hell holes one could imagine. We cannot forget or unsee the images sent to us by the press or by our friends and neighbors who are over there. We remember all too well, the sights and smells and sounds of war. They haunt our dreams and they hound us in our waking paths every day.

When we came home, people wanted us to be the same people we were when we left.The nature of what we'd seen and done has/had changed us irrevocably. Cruelty never had a sharper bite. We weren't the same. We couldn't ever be the same. Some folks reacted badly to that...they wanted their old friends/loved ones back, and they resented the change.
Unable to see how cruel that was they chose to avoid contact or treat us as "different"..."Damaged" ..."Disturbed, shell-shocked, etc...pick a metaphor. We are who we are now.

I and others like me have stood at the very sharp end where the red wine is served for true...and fought for our country. And there's really only one thing we need to remember on this day, of all days.
We fought and bled , and died for America, warts and all. Right or wrong. But the victory, the true nature of returning home victorious from war...is to do so alive. Coming home is our victory. Seeing our wives and families is our victory. Being alive to tell the tales of our brothers and sisters in arms who are not, is our victory.

We won. We ALL won.
dwolfhunter: (Default)
I have seen men die in combat.
I have seen my brother fall.
I have felt the sting of battle .
All gave some, some gave all.

My blood has watered the grasses.
The blood of my brothers as well.
We fought because we were told to,
we served in the garden of hell.

They gave us medals and honors
I suppose we were meant to be proud
We remember the "posthumous heroes"
We still hear their voices aloud.

Now you who come after us, know well
that we who went before you
are proud that you have followed.
We'll be waiting here when you are through

For soldiers are a breed set apart
They put all they are on the line
for god, for country, for brethren
Nowhere else are there soldiers so fine.

Do you find it at all odd that since 1914-1918 and "the war to end war" we have fought seven more major and minor wars? I will posit this theory: No one is more anti-war than someone who's actually been in one. Remember your veterans and you active service members this week folks...they gave a lot for you to be exactly where you are.

Hamish, once:

Corporal Dennis M. Sparks
B Co. 17th Engrs./ Assault and Barrier Plt.

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