There seemed to be some type of unrest which lingered in the air. As if a visit from the Reaper would happen at any moment. I cradle the handgun and wait for the inexplicable and unexpected to occur. An explanation might be called for, if I survived the doom which loomed on my doorstep.
Iraq didn’t teach me much, but it drove home the need to listen to your instincts. Firefights popped off without advanced notice. If you were caught unaware, you died. There are no words to explain this feeling. Part of me is cagey, another part excited and still another part wonders if I have missed a step.
Red tracer fire would illuminate the moonless nights, the sharp crack of IEDs would send shrapnel into trucks, leaving them mangled and eviscerated heaps. The fragile and shattered bodies of friends and insurgents alike, protrude from the landscape like jagged pikes in a horror movie.
The answer seemed to always be, “throw more meat in the grinder.” That meat they so callously tossed into the shredder were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. If the goal was secured, not one whit was given about the loss of life. We found our reward in the scars, trauma, and broken life when we returned from the killing fields.
Survival meant nothing then, it means even less now. The broken husk of a past that can’t stay buried is the only memory left in a life given to battle. When the war was finished, we had nothing to show for the killing, the maiming and the destruction left in our wake. Victory was never an option. From the moment we arrived, we had already lost.
We were sold out before the first bullet was ever fired from a rifle, before the splash of cannon fire demolished entire sections of cities. The cries of the wounded was drowned out by the ching of cash register drawers being opened and the payout being given. It would be hilarious, if so, many people weren’t blown into pieces for no other reason than making some politician richer.
There is blood on the risers, our blood, their blood, human blood. Bloodied, broken but unbowed, we the forgotten will never forget. Shattered upon the blood-soaked sands of a land time has misplaced in the annals of history, we made our stand. For what purpose did we stand? I can’t remember, but I know the cost was too high.
With war, nothing is ever simple. Yet, it should not be so complicated that we can’t achieve victory. Our soldiers deserve a chance to purchase triumph on the battlefield. If the reward is scars and lifelong trauma, then victory must be achieved at all cost. Otherwise, what is the point?
When we returned from the killing fields, life went on. However, it left us behind. We stand in our home country, but our minds never leave the battlefield for long. Family and friends can’t understand why we aren’t “normal” or why we refuse to waste words concerning events that occur in our government and personal life. Because deep down we know people don’t want the answer to these questions, instead they want to be comforted with lies; so that the illusion is maintained.
Dream your dreams of a life that holds meaning. We stand prepared to do violence on your behalf, so that your children may live a life of peace. Bloodied, broken and unbowed, we are the guardians of freedom, and the meat in the grinder.