From a Veteran on Veterans’ Day

Thank you for the good wishes on Veterans Day.

I was thinking about it last night before I went to bed. With Donald Trump snubbing the WW1 veterans in the centennial of Armistice Day.
He couldn’t go, apparently, because it was misting outside.
Take that for what it’s worth.

Yet, I don’t want to talk about him. He’s everywhere, right now.
He’s sort of like the Spanish Flu that wreaked havoc on the population fo the world during the first World War leading to an unparalleled death toll.
I want to talk about heroes.

I’ve seen this quote passed around on the internet as long as I’ve been a veteran, as long as I’ve been aware of the burden veterans carry post service.
This quote goes like this:

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

I think this has the right intention, but I think it’s wrong-headed.

One of the things that I’ve observed about the veteran, myself included, is that they are everyday people. They are pulled out of the population of this country, or they’ve chosen to serve for various reasons. Sometimes it’s patriotism, sometimes it’s money for school, sometimes it’s just because they have no forward momentum in life and need some stability. Everyone serves for different reasons.

Yet, regardless of why they served, they served. It’s okay to call these people heroes. Most veterans you know today, have served in the middle east in some way or another since September 11, 2001. There have been many battles in both Iraq and Afghanistan that these young people, very young people, fought and died at.
However, again, as I age I realize not all soldiers wore uniforms and not all battles are fought on foreign soil.

Wars come in all shapes and sizes. Ideas are introduced into the mainstream of society and those ideas combat old, established, ways of thinking and have either bolstered the old ways or tore them down.
It’s a success if those ideas that are torn down are so without a shot fired. Without a fist raised. Without violence.
It’s a failure when the opposite happens.

See, war isn’t about success, about victory, war is about failure. As cliche as it is, war is about a failure of people to communicate their ideas in a productive way.
Whether you’re talking about the European theatre of operations in WW1 or the Bridge in Selma Alabama, those were battlegrounds. Those people who participated in those events were soldiers. Those places were where ideas clashed.

And it’s sort of unique, after the rockets red glare finally fades and those that remain to pick up the pieces of their lives and try move on. The love they’re shown and in some instances, the animosity they receive for being brave enough to challenge the old ways of thinking for the hope of something new yanks them out of their humanness.
The effect is the same. Isolation.

When we talk about those people in Selma, or in WW1 we forget or we never really admit that they are human beings. People. Just like us. Depending on who you are and what you believe you either put them up on pedestals as icons of glory or you throw them down into the dirt with pejorative names.
The effect is exactly the same. Isolation.

We extract them from or refuse to accept them into, the whole, into the body, from the tribe.

It’s a burden we veterans recognize, its a burden those in the various civil rights movements recognize, those in the marriage debates recognize, those in the struggle for gender equality recognize, those in the fight for equal wages recognize, those in the struggle for Trans rights, #metoo, all recognize, the journalists, the preachers, the founders, the teachers, nurses, doctors, voting booth watchers, social workers, those people on the bridge in Selma, immigrant organizations recognize, dreamers all recognize.

That heroes walk among us.

So, how do we take care of our heroes including those who fought in foreign theatres?

It’s quite easy, really.

Love one and you can love them by realizing that just like you, they’re human beings.

Happy Veterans Day

The Collective Unconcious (Poem)

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unsplash-logoRedd Angelo

The wind is howling
at seven thirty in the morning
a bitter wind
shoves it’s way down from the north
I’ve walked the dog, 
dressed in Corpus Christi Coture
which consisted of work out shorts
a hoodie, and a robe
before dashing back inside
and now with a cup of Earl Grey
my dog asleep in the corner
the cat asleep on a chair
I come to the altar of humanity once more
to bear my soul
and write my song
as if I didn’t know the dangers
of being naked
to the bitter winds of the world

Lately, my mind
has not been my own
my body
has been in pain
and I’ve spent countless hours
my arms splayed out at my sides
grasping realities
trying desperately to hold myself together
but the reality of my situation is
that I am in the most danger
when I cannot give myself away
when I cannot imbue a part of my soul
in a book, in a story, in a poem
and set it to sail among the many souls
adrift in the collective unconscious

No children, have I, at my age
that fate wasn’t written on my heart
due in part to a hijacked mind
but I do have family among those
who kneel at the water’s edge with me
and murmur their truth to the stars above
that family, no one could take away
not even death
their truth lives on in stories they told
when they in a living way
took time to kneel beside the ever-flowing river
speaking their truth to the firmament
when they bowed their heads to pray.

 

From a veteran: Grow up, America

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Mark Jefferson Paraan

I have seen two posts over as many days saying ‘we don’t care about the kneeling’ or ‘you’re a rich NFL player and kneeling is disrespectful to those who served and fought yada yada yada”

What’s happened here in America with the rise of racism and would be fascist dictatorships and authoritarianism, is happening all over the Western World.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Murkel was just reelected for her fourth term. That’s great!

The bad news, the far right party, which is equivalent to the Nazi party got 13 percent headway into the new government.

The U.K has Nigel Farage and Theresa May, etc.

First off, if you don’t live in this country and you comment about what’s going on in this country – watch your lane. You need to check your own.

Secondly, the reason the whole kneeling thing is happening by the NFL, WNBA, NBA, MLB etc. is due to dead people in our streets murdered without due process of law. The majority of them being black.

So black athletes – starting with Colin Kaepernick starting making this issue visible using their platform.

See we like black people when we’re bumpin their music, when we’re watching their movies, when they go out and win championship titles, and trophies, and boxing matches, and super-bowl rings.

Black Athletes have brought home the gold in Olympic sports representing this country. They’ve fought and died for this country’s freedom.  (By the way, how did service members and the military get white washed?)

We like our black folks, then.

But when they kneel and we know what it is they’re kneeling over it makes us uncomfortable.

So to deal with that uncomfortablness of your country not being all sunshine and roses, instead of dealing with it – you want to put that off on the flag, or over the anthem, or best of all on veterans and current service members.

Stop putting your bullshit off on us. Because quite frankly, the majority of the responses from vets to the black community and those who are kneeling has been supportive.

Why? Because like major sports, the United States Military integrated successfully. They make it work, everyday.

See, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights is the Beatrice to our Dante. Do you understand?

Of course you don’t.

See, when you sign up to serve, you need something grandiose to hang on to. A reason. A deep abiding faith in more than just looking good in a uniform. Because once you sign over that blank check you know you could die and dammit you have to have a reason to die and an even better reason to live.

That reason is that one day the words of our forebears would be actualized and not just conceptualized.

That oath we swear to uphold and defend, regardless of selective incorporation, regardless of federalism, regardless of SCOTUS decisions – we stand for life, liberty, and all of what it entails.

We stand for the right of the Klans member to march and for fuck sake – we stand for the black man (universally speaking) who was brutally discriminated against for 300 years – to make a statement about his freedom.

Because at the end of the day – our money is not on those who can’t take three minutes of a wake up call. Our money is on someone who’s suffered and died for over three hundred years and still —AND STILL —- remains.

Slavery didn’t wipe them out
The Civil War didn’t wipe them out
Jim Crow never wiped them out
Organized and racist religions didn’t wipe them out
The Rise of the religious right didn’t wipe them out
The war on drugs didn’t wipe them out
These killer cops aren’t going to do it either.

They have 300 years of this, you have three minutes.

I don’t see black people as the problem. I see you as the problem. You’re lazy. Intellectually slothful, hanging on to something your grandpappy put in your head, hanging on to the war of northern aggression, hanging on to dead ideas and death culture, because you’re whiteness somehow equates rightness.

I can’t speak for the rest of my brothers and sisters in arms but quite frankly all of this is the reason why we really don’t like civilians.

You’re children. Spoiled rotten ass children. This country has kept you this way. Your faiths have kept you this way. You’ve refused to leave your colloquialism behind. You refuse to travel the world and see and experience other people. Hell, most of you won’t leave your neighborhoods.

It is 17 years into the 21st century.

It is well passed time for you to grow up.

Personally, I think a mandatory 2 year enlistment for all citizens in one of the service branches would do a great deal toward working out the issues this country has with race among other things.