Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The War of Independence

Corpse & garbage in the streets of Adhamiya

They killed my friend early this year. He was fighting for independence.

A sniper blew a bullet through his neck and he died.

Today we celebrate Independence Day.


I'm not allowed to tell you much. His conservative father would hate it. And we should always respect family wishes, heaven knows, even if it means another thousand U.S. families get a knock on their door between now and next Independence Day.

It fucked me up when he died. Didn't know it was only a warm-up before getting called out of the bull pen in early relief.

I've known his family almost a quarter-century, since before he was born. Hung with his grandpapa when I was medicing. The kid played in diapers while I brought water to illegals, treated their sores, shot the breeze.

Never knew the kid as a young man or even a teen. Knew his young mom a little, although I doubt she remembers me. It's his grandpapa I knew and admired (himself passed on awhile now.) And now this boy, this kid is dead. Sniped.

Nothing to do about it. I mean, he's dead and that's that. Can not change the past. But all the way till Gilly went in the hospital, I wrestled with, "What in the hell am I doing?" This boy gave his life, even if I say it's a criminal war. For him, the war and his buddies were everything.

The issue for me is, I used to be a paramedic, flying in helicopters, working the ghetto, putting my life on the line routinely for partner and patients. And now there's a war on and I'm doing what? This kid gave his life. What the hell am I doing...

Seriously. There's a war on and we blog. That's what we do. Chickenhawks by definition are cowards so who gives a damn what they do? But I'm an Army vet with years as a street and flight medic. I have a sense of obligation, a need to act and not just talk. What the hell am I doing when it counts? Working a job, raising kids, and blogging. And until recently, I didn't even do that. I commented, while Gilly did the blogging. Sheeittt... Loser.

People are dying . Not just U.S. people. There's a war on. We started it with lies. Thousands of our own people have died. Tens of thousands are wounded, at least half for life, and hundreds on thousands of other nationalities are dead and wounded. WTF am I doing about it?

I struggled for months. Months. Where did, where does my duty lie? Only Steve being hospitalized took my mind off wrestling with my own need to act beyond platitudes, to actually go do something.

I don't have a pat answer. Can't say I've solved anything. This isn't a post where I've got something nice to say at the end, a way to let y'all or me off the hook. I don't have some cause to join to relieve guilt.

For close on six months I've struggled to write this post. Steve and Hubris listened to me write draft after draft after draft, and all of them blew. I've complained and moaned and griped to anyone who would listen, and been a royal pain in the ass, trying to figure out how to deal with this one soldier's death that got to me so personally.

Here's all I got...

Every day -- mostly -- I go to Iraq Today, the best site I've found for putting me right in the middle of whatever is actually going down in Iraq. It's rough. I mean, it's rough for me. I'm trained for this stuff, and still it's rough for me. But they're our women and men over there, which means I share responsibility for their acts and lives, no matter how in the hell they got in theater.

So at least once a day, I go to Iraq Today and am confronted by what is happening: I simply sit... and breathe.

What changes when you do this day after day, I leave as an exercise for you to discover. *smiles*

It has been four months now, day after day, sitting and breathing. It's been a blessing, in the truest sense of the word.

Happy Independence Day.