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Jack Schimmelman Headshot

Forgetting

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We forget the day after remembering. Memorial Day passes with parades, grave pronouncements, visits to unknown soldiers' tombs and so much more. We honor those who have served. We remember.

And we keep on forgetting. We forget the neighbor's son or daughter who signed up because they could not get a job, but their Uncle Samuel has promised a straight path to employment once they are discharged from the service.

We gather live bodies and minds that still function and train them to be killers. Killers must not empathize with the enemy. The inability to empathize with another human being is one trait of a sociopath. Yet we are proud they have served. We do not tell our neighbor that our government has declared war without a true reason, but only for an abstract political theory about how to control the Middle East. Or perhaps it is another theory. Who knows? We certainly don't. Those politicians who make their momentous speeches on special occasions send our children, parents, and in some cases, grandparents, to war. And during these two wars, many have been deployed several times. At the same time they plot a war on poor people in this country. When did the War on Poverty become the War on the Poor? As this "poor" war heats up, more bodies seek to become cannon fodder for those who have helped make it harder to survive. Let us make a new rule. If Congress wishes to declare war, their children must serve first. Not an original thought, but on point.

Despite these futile circumstances, we honor those who have returned.

Ghosts increasingly walk our cities, farms, suburbs and points beyond. These apparitions look, speak and feel like alive human beings. But their souls have been drained of music. They are shells returning on transports. In 11 years of useless war in Afghanistan we have lost 2,000 people. We have lost many more to suicide.

Families are surprised that their son, daughter, father, mother cannot easily reintegrate themselves. We have paid them to be destroyers and they return with a battered soul. The army responds by giving inane advice to loved ones who are home. They have also responded by setting up hotlines, places to which veterans can go, but, at best, this seems to have been inadequate. Others say the suicides are because most vets cannot find jobs and so we must do something about that. Well, that's a good idea. What do they put down as their skills on an application?

We kiss our citizens goodbye to defend a state that is close to the top of corrupt states. The true casualty of war is us. We diminish because of what we do to ourselves, never mind the innocents we mangle, kill and cast into the dry mountain and desert arid winds.

We are dying, because we don't have a clue as to what we can do for the people for whom we are responsible. A spell has been cast. Soldiers who return need to be removed from their fog. Some have done so. Witness the vets who threw their medals at NATO when that organization met in Chicago. Aaron Hughes, a National Guardsman from Illinois dedicated his medal to a friend no longer breathing; a second medal to one-third of the women in the armed services who have been sexually assaulted and finally he broke down, saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." His spell has vanished and the first steps towards his recovery has begun. We will all be the richer for this American's journey back to himself.

Every veteran who comes home needs profound emotional support and in many cases (perhaps the majority) intense personal therapy.

The jig is up. The president gives us some hazy reasons why he cannot start complete withdrawal now. He says the mission isn't completed. He claims that a narco state like Afghanistan, whose head guy is the chief drug dealer, will fight the Taliban once we have finished training Afghan forces. Our government claims that Al Quaeda will again flood the country after we are gone while simultaneously telling us they have killed most of their leadership, including the infamous Osama.

Now is the time to stand. In the midst of our pathetic attempt at an election we must demand of Obama that if you want our vote you must end this war beginning now. And if he is elected and fails to do this, then we must stand taller. We must occupy Washington. We must sit down and not move. Let the National Guard come back from Afghanistan and haul our uncivilized asses to jail. We must fill the jails until there is no space to put us. Listen to Gandhi. We must proceed with profound love. Listen to your heart. Don't listen to Congress (which hardly works for a living) who tells us that we don't understand the complicated geopolitical reasons for killing our citizens. We understand enough. We were attacked by a group of radicals who conspired in Germany and the U.S., amongst other places on the globe. Shall we bomb Germany? Or how about Minnesota? We do not need to know all of the finer points of war. All we need to know is the inflamed look in the hollow eyes of our fellow citizens as they return to their personal rubble. That debris more than equals the wasteland we have created while executing senseless wars.

Stand, demand, sit until the incantation of state violence vanishes into the ether. Let us all return home. Remember.

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