Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Memorial Day

I cried. It was Memorial Day and it hit me so hard, my first Memorial Day since leaving the Army. She watched me and felt helpless as I sat there and quietly broke down in long silent sobs as the memories came flooding back and the guilt started again. My wife didn’t know exactly what to do, she made sure my son and daughter were still playing together in the other room and she held me.

She suggested we go to my father’s house so that I could talk to him. He had served in Vietnam and I knew he would know what I was going through. I drove without saying a word as I turned on the radio to NPR and listened to vets talk about those they lost, they had one vet for each war since World War I. I drove with big rolling tears quietly so that my children wouldn’t know that their father was so weak right then.

I saw my father in his backyard watering the grass and as I walked up to him Tara drove off with the kids. In a heap I crumpled when he turned to me and I couldn’t make it stop. Memories I thought I had filed away came flying back hitting me and without control I finally sobbed aloud as he walked over and extended his hand.

The only thing he said just then was, “you feel guilty don’t you?” He knew without even needing to ask. I was so very grateful for him at that moment. Not to have to talk about it and try to explain, just being able to have someone understand without asking anything was like gold. After a few minutes I calmed down and asked him if it was ever that hard for him. He told me it was. The memories and feeling that guilt for coming back alive while so many others have died both soldiers and civilians. That was all I could think about that day, why me? God, why did you let me live when you took so many others? But it wasn’t God; it was us, mankind that did this.

My father helped me put myself back together piece by piece until I felt complete again and like that it was over. The rest of the day was uneventful, but in the back of my mind I realize that the guilt is still there, it always was I just didn’t see it until that day. I love you dad and I know why you came back alive from Vietnam. You came back because I needed you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Troubled Times

If the army follows suit then I am in for another tour in Iraq...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Time has Come

Time is fascinating to me. This same area of space can be occupied by so many different objects, but not at the same time. In that same line of thinking time can be so different yet remains the same. Every convoy I went on in Iraq was the longest convoy I had ever been on until it was over and I was still alive, then it was nothing to me anymore.

Look back at your last year. Or think back to when you were a teenager and discovering the opposite sex for the first time. It was just yesterday wasn't it? Yet, at the same time you think, how did I get here? Where did the time go? Scientists see time as a constant, it is just our mind's interpretation of time that changes. Something as simple as a few seconds can change everything.

Time affects us all, and it affects each of us differently. I donÂ’t believe that you can have 2 different people do the exact same thing for the same period of time and have it affect them in the exact same way. One might feel more tired than the other, or perhaps it reminds the other of some event which the latter hasn't experienced.

With time things come always closer to an end. Things begin to die the moment they come into existence, even as they grow the time of their death comes closer. So many say there is just not enough time, yet so much can happen in a single second. Life can change forever in a single second. If you were to compile a list I am sure you would find almost all of the major events in your life happened in a second. The second you saw your child born, or perhaps the moment a loved one went from a breathing living person with thoughts and ideas to a dead corpse, or even the moment the words slipped out of your mouth and you knew there was no taking them back or un-saying them.

The universe can shift for some in but a moment. Seconds, moments, instants, those are the most monumental aspects of time. Decisions are made during those infinite instants, things can never be undone in those moments, and seconds are all that exist between life and death so many times each day. Deciding to swerve right instead of left when the person slams on their breaks in front of you.

War happened in an instant, just as a child is born during that same moment. War is all I can think about sometimes and then all I can see is how easy it can be. To choose to use force instead of so many other things to decide what is right. Time will be telling us secrets as well, things like were we right? What happens after that second is over? It becomes history which is permanent, concrete with its unchanging monumentality.

History is time past. All those seconds which change the universe become one long span which tells us the stories we read about in school. Things like religion, slavery, civil war, love, and hate. War, it always come full circle to war doesn't it? Ask the Iraqis how long the last few years have been. Ask Lebanon how long the last month has been. I can only guess, but I believe they would both answer you that it has been a lifetime. That is their history now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What Can You do?

Just a few weeks after returning from a year long deployment in Iraq these men are made to return.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Occupation of the Grass

How do you occupy a piece of land without causing some kind of strife? Take something as simple as standing on the grass. If you simply occupy your spot for a few minutes you have probably already killed at least a couple blades of grass. The patch of grass as a whole will survive no problem but if you do something more intrusive like place a child'’s swimming pool on the grass for a weekend you will find that you have almost killed an entire area of grass, however, with proper care you can still make that section live.

My point is that Iraq is like that patch of grass with our soldiers occupying it. We are beginning to get to the point of no return. I believe that a good sign of that point being reached is that we are on the brink of full scale civil war. Our occupation is killing Iraq and soon there will be no quick fixing of the damage we have caused there. Damage which is continuing to be done because we refuse to get off that piece of grass and as we stand there it dies more each day.

It will not be a quick end. It will be like an animal dying slowly of disease, an animal which doesn't even realize that it is going to die until it is too late to do anything but let it go. At which point do we come to our senses and stop killing Iraq with our helping efforts?

Crimes of War

If you don't like international law, then change it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Villages

Entering the villages on our way north in 2003 always sent a mixture of fear and excitement through me. As we approached usually one of two things would be happening. The people would ether be lined up waving at us with smiles on their faces or we would be shot at and shelled with mortar and rocket fire.

This village was different though. They were peaking out of their windows and timidly taking steps closer to our convoy, however, that ended rather quickly when we suddenly stopped. I was traveling with an artillery unit and they had just received a call for fire. We were in a small one lane road and unbelievably the Paladins (the US Army’s main artillery pieces) set up to fire right there in the middle of the village.

In my mind I was imagining somewhere about a mile or so, perhaps farther, some of our infantry or armor troops must be getting hit pretty hard to have us set up to fire in this village. It seemed like a dangerous move on our part.

In a matter of minutes the Paladins were hammering out death to hit targets miles away. Vigilant is what I was right then, because I kept thinking that this would be a perfect time to be ambushed, while we were busy killing people we couldn’t even see. Luckily the villagers were not violent towards us or perhaps the godlike thunder of our artillery was scaring them away.

In minutes it was over, and we went on our way as if nothing had happened. All we left behind were the giant shells of our artillery rounds and the spent casing which was used to carry them. Perhaps the villagers thought it was left as a reminder of what we were capable of.

An hour later we finally saw our first glimpses of Baghdad. On the outskirts we could only really see the Saddam International Airport, but it was a wonderful sight. There was a field near what was left of one of Saddam’s Special Republican Guard outposts which we were to call home for our first week in Baghdad.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

At Cannon Beach

Originally uploaded by nevadog.

My son Jacob and my dog Benny

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cannon Beach Oregon

Originally uploaded by nevadog.

A day in the Sand, but not in Iraq.