Close to home

Nothing says “Even if it IS broke, don’t fix it” like sending 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. Way to show them Dems how big your dick is, President Shrub. Jesus. It’s like war is your equivalent of other men’s little red sports cars. Kindly have your midlife crisis NOT on my tax dollars, mmmkay?

One of my colleagues/friends just got the news that her high school boyfriend was killed in Iraq. He never intended to be a soldier — this wasn’t his passion. He enlisted in his early 20s because he didn’t go to college and the working world wasn’t doing him any favors. He was a paratrooper, just like my grandfather was.

And I hate to think it, but it’s true. What if my grandfather hadn’t just been injured in World War II — what if he hadn’t come back at all? Mom and I wouldn’t be here, of course, but to frame this discussion, my poor grandfather got abused and neglected at the Veterans Administration Hospitals his whole life — it’s like they killed him slowly instead of it happening in one tragic mission.

I doubt that thought brought any peace to my friend (and I probably shouldn’t have said it), but boy did I cry for her last night. The things we are forced to deal with that just shouldn’t happen, in an ideal world, are mind-boggling. Pain, injustice, grief — and what do we (or they?) get in return for all the bad stuff?

I have a lot of friends who went into the military for the exact same reason as my colleague’s friend — they wanted the career training and hoped for a desk job. And after their time commitment was up, they got the fuck out (just before the Iraq war, incidentally). Like they told me, NAVY stands for “Never Again Volunteer Yourself!”

I feel for my friend — this is someone who was important to her at one time, even though he wasn’t someone she thought about every day. I remember when the L.A. riots broke out after the Rodney King debacle — a guy from my high school had gone to L.A. with hopes and dreams just like so many millions before them have done, and he got caught in the crossfire. I didn’t know him well or, for that matter, even like him all that much. But what it did was connect me in some way to events that otherwise wouldn’t have touched me personally.

It makes the world smaller when you realize that somebody you know is the person the headlines are talking about. And it makes your heart a little harder, your mind a little more jaded, to know that your government doesn’t really care about you as a person — just as long as their operatives go off without a hitch.

Mom got something in the mail recently, after that fucking VA Hospital murdered my grandfather. It was a certificate signed by O Holy Shrub himself, acknowledging my grandfather’s service to this country. Whoopty fucking doo. He gave his life and his health and his best years, and all he got in return was a very painful death. If the certificate had come earlier, I would have buried it with him.

Thanks for the piece of paper and the flag that makes us cry because it was on his casket and now it’s all we have left of him. Go back to your mansion and continue your circle jerk with the joint chiefs of staff and don’t worry about the rest of us who’ve lost emotional and financial supports. Really — we’ll be OK, thanks for not asking.

Incidentally, Mom found some letters my grandfather had sent to his family. His mother was amazing, his father was absent/abusive and he was one of eight children. He always sent home money to feed the family, to ensure that the little ones got the clothes or birthday presents they wanted (they had so very little), and all he ever wanted was for them to take a couple of those dollars and send him some new guitar strings because he couldn’t find them in Germany.

These are the kinds of people that war takes away. And it’s only the few of us who knew them as people and not as just another body who will ever truly know what a great loss to this nation these people are. …

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