On ‘Supporting the Troops’: A short memorial day dispatch


On Memorial Day, we are told to support our troops. We are told to remember the sacrifices that our troops have made for us and our country; freedom, democracy, and all that jazz. Most of this huzzahing comes from politicians. But what is the real reason for all the hoopla about ‘supporting our troops’?

Iraq is now in a state of chaos and the war in Afghanistan, which has dragged on for over a decade, is sure to follow suit once we leave there. The War on Terror, in and of itself, seems like a poorly designed soap opera where the only winners are those at the top. The losers are much more pronounced but—at the same token—invisible. There will be no discussion on the media or from the President about the 14% rise in civilian casualties from 2012; 2,959 to be exact. Only 127 American soldiers have lost their lives there last year. How are their lives more important than the men, women, and children of Afghanistan? Is there any conceivable justification for parading our ignorance on a street filled with children waving the American flag?

For the soldiers, is it enough to have a day where we ‘remember’ and then conveniently forget the very next? What kind of service to the troops are we giving when we decide to send them off to die one day and then say to ourselves, “Oops. Maybe it was a mistake to send those people off to die.”

I have no doubts that our country’s military is filled with patriotic, brave individuals who would gladly sacrifice their lives in its defense. But that completely misses the point. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not serving anyone anymore. The United States has become a rogue state that does whatever it wants whenever it wants, and damn the international law and the backlash. I’m still quite confused as to why we are in Afghanistan. If anyone can give me a definitive answer as to why we are there, I will send you an electronic cookie.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t support the troops. I do. I just think it’s a little weird that the people who keep telling me to support them are the ones stabbing them in the back. I don’t approve, and neither should you.

Lustful dreaming, writing scheming

The dancing girl swings her hips to the rhythm of modern pop while I watch from afar, unnoticed but intent on communication.

When I begin to walk over, I’m in ecstasy of her walk, her talk, her smile. That smile . . . it’s the kind of smile that any man would like to be shown, even on a bad day. Because when there is no hope, a smile like that, with eyes that laugh and penetrate, could make anyone think there was something better . . . just so long as that smile is for me.

When I said hello, she acknowledged me with a nod and disappeared into the darkness of Lady Gaga’s wailing. I wondered if it may have been different if I had said something besides ‘hello’ but without a contraption that would allow me to travel back to that moment of lustful purpose, I could only wonder.

And so it starts. . .endless beginnings of half-written sentences which swirl in my head like a psychotic washing machine who gave up trying to please the owners of the clothes it was destined forever to clean. The notebook, which I held once, is my last concrete dream I still keep. All the others have vanished.

The cigarette that I light burns a pleasant billow of smoke in my mouth. I exhale as if my life were dependent on the nicotine. I cough a little and spit out some tar wondering, as I always do when brown mucus spills from my mouth, why I do this. The answer lies somewhere back in high school when I was trying to fit in. It never worked, but I did gain some friends—good and bad—and I gained a few more and lost a few so I guess it evened out.

I try to move my pen in a pattern that creates words, but instead I doddle a picture of a man with glasses who stares angrily back at me from the lined paper. He knows who I am; perhaps he is the only one who does. I stare back at him as if in contest, but I lose when I see his image blur into a picture of someone I’ve lost. I close the book and throw it across the room. That’s when I decide that I’ve done enough writing for today.
I throw cold water on my face trying not to sulk, but give up when reality hits me—again. When I gave a shit before, I lost my mind. I decided, at that moment, to give up everything. I tried smoking away my emotions—didn’t work. So, in the end, I had to drink the whiskey. In the end, I had to pop that pill. And when it was all over, I breathed a sigh of relief as I drifted back to where I came from.

(by the way I know the image makes no sense with this, but I was too lazy to find something else.)