Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

The Wars of Our Fathers

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

I grew up surrounded by Veterans. Our grandfathers and neighbors had fought in WW2 and our fathers and uncles had served in Vietnam and Korea. Some where in the fishing and deer hunting, these men taught us that life is sacred and to be cherished. That Duty is part of that. That sometimes Duty requires you to violate the sacred and kill other men. But that is the nature of Duty and Life is always sacred.

These men came home from their wars and built the world around us. I had never heard of PTSD but my Grandmother’s brother never talked about his war. I was cautioned not to ask. I was told he “saw some things.” He worked and raised his family and hunted and fished and did his Duty and knew life was sacred.

I am still surrounded by Veterans.

They speak constantly of their PTSD and our numbers among the homeless and outcast are greater than for any other segment of society. They kill themselves. My unit has lost more soldiers to suicide than we did to enemy action.

And when not complaining about PTSD, I hear people counseling further violence and calling for the death of people who really just need a good talking to or maybe an ass beating.

My Grandmother’s brother saw the truth of rounding people up and exterminating them because of the danger they represented. And I don’t think he ever found a way to explain any of what he saw.  Two generations later, it is easy to refuse the call of Duty and easy to suggest that hate is an answer.



Posted: December 31, 2014 in Writing
Tags: ,

When I volunteered to extend my tour in Afghanistan, my sister asked me why I didn’t want to go home. I tried to explain and failed. Then I sat down at my laptop and wrote this.


She asks why I don’t want to go home.

The boundaries of enlightenment are confusion and panic.

You are walking down a goat trail, using your black rifle to keep your balance while gravel slides, when everything that is not intrinsic to who you are gets stripped away by the sound of an RPK opening up behind you.

Even wearing full kit and armor, you drop to your belly. A rock no larger than your head becomes a fortress hiding you from the sharp killing whine above your head. Every sense you possess focuses on the origin of that noise. Eyes seek movement…ears seek the barking…part of you just FEELS for the thing trying to kill you.

And who you really are emerges to seek and kill. You no longer have a degree from a third rate engineering school. You are no longer a father, a son, a brother, a friend. You have never heard music, smelled grass, tasted caramel, kissed a girl, danced at a wedding, played with a child.

You become a primal beast on which society has overlaid it’s designs. You act without thought because beasts do not think. You violate the ultimate taboo…focusing everything you are on killing another beast that might once have been a man. Every muscle strains to close distance…you move so you can shoot…shoot so you can move…

Then it is over. That moment of satori, that moment of crystal clarity fathomable only to mystics and animals, ends. An RPG from an ANA soldier finds the machine gun. A round from a black rifle finds the heart or brain or maybe only the guts of the image of God that found his destiny in your reticle.

And slowly those layers of lies and half-truths and trivia envelope you again.

You become something you were not meant to be. Your son’s father, your mother’s son, citizen, Deist. That student who graduated cum laude with a meaningless degree in philosophy. The target of advertising campaigns designed to sell sex and beer. The inheritor of promises made by prophets long dead.

The first time you vomit. The second time you shake. The third time you laugh.

But you never get to go home again.


This is my offering for a writing challenge suggested by The Daily Post