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Friday, November 11, 2011

Dear Me, 11.11.11

    Today is Veterans Day in the USA. It is the day that the banks are closed and no mail is delivered. Kids are home from school and events are planned to honor all who have served us in war and military service. It is a day when we reflect upon our freedom and the price paid by many to ensure our safety.
    It is a quiet sombre day to mourn the fallen, those who have paid the ultimate price, the most expensive fare for freedom, the battles horrible, the land, strange to our battalions, men and women, soldiers, walking into danger, wishing they were elsewhere, alone, in the place where they have no longer any childhood, no longer any innocent laughter, alone, family the distant last letter in their pocket closest to their heart where they hope they can feel the radiant warmth of the hearth at home surrounded by the family. The piece of paper that gives them hope, courage and fortitude. The slip of paper that was touched by the hand of a loved one touching and close to their heart, keeping them safe, keeping them warm. They are in a place wearing the same boots, day in and day out, they never taken them off, never given a chance to breathe, their clothing, stiff with dirt debris and sweat of the days of battle the nights of no sleep, the times of rain, the same clothing between their backs resting against the mud wall, cold wet and distant from a place of comfort, home. Young healthy people, chosen in the best of health, chosen with the best of choices to withstand the rigors of the unknown the unending seconds that never change the tick of the monotony of the changeless tedium of conflict.

 The young bank clerk called to duty, the fun loving guy with the sense of humor that  brought wit to work with him every day, the young clerk who now resides on the wall in Washington D.C.  still far from home, far Brooklyn New York. And the uncle who survived the prisoner of war camp after the battle of the Bulge, the gentleman seated always next to his brother in law, the soldier who found him at the camp, emaciated, filth encrusted. The brother in law awarded the Silver Star, because he dressed  like a peasant to lead other soldiers and sheep through a mine field in Italy, to battle the Germans for a farm house up the hill. Regular guys who sat at the family table during those days of celebration, laughing and joking, full of life. Or the sailor who told stories of freezing every day in the crows nest on lookout in the North Atlantic near the Artic Circle, looking for submarines of the enemy, hoping to site them before being sited, eyelashes frozen, breath frozen.
    Veterans Day, 11.11.11, at home warm safe with memories of past wars, past veterans, peering into The New Age of Malice with the unseen enemy lurking in the shadows disguised as a neighbor, ready to blow up everything  in the name of the new cause, the new enemy, the new evil. There is no longer a map of the territory in dispute, it is everywhere, everywhere they want it to be, against everyone in their way, everyone who disagrees. And they no longer win the land, the territory, the bounty, the assets, the property, nothing tangible in their hands, no bands play, no salutes, no medals, no place of honor on a wall, no bronze statute to remind us of the battle they fought, the day they won, the day they lost. The unnamed hero fighting the enemy in one battle, only one assault, only one place, never to have another day to give, to sacrifice, to live through, only one shot, only one chance to make a mark during The New Age of Malice, the little boy who will never grow old after the conflict, the little boy whose battle is the one, the only one for him, his only time to be proud, his only time to be strong, his only time to be a hero.
    Is it a better war, not to have survivors, no lingering victims no damaged heroes for society to tend, no dependents to remind us of the price paid, no offspring who dream of wars they have never fought as though they were there, no offspring to fear what is around the corner they have never turned, no persons missing arms or legs or other parts the rest of us have. No turf to claim until the total end of the game when there are few left, few to remember, few to begin again till the next new absolute assault on morality, the code of man, living side by side with man, and woman and child.
   Veterans Day, a time to remember what was and what will be, the cost of war,  the price we all pay. Throw the wreath upon the water and watch it roll on the waves of time, washing away our memories, washing away our pains, washing away our days, cleaning the slate for the chalk of life of another day.

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