Marco Frucht joined the U.S. Army in 1988, he was 24-years-old. Monday night Frucht drove to the site of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and left behind his 4th Infantry Division patch and -- he hopes- - the rest of his anger.
Frucht's initial reaction Sunday night when he heard that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed in Pakistan was happiness. But when he watched people across the U.S. celebrating the terrorist's death like it was a soccer match he felt apprehension for the nation he'd signed on to defend.
Wednesday the medically disabled vet posted on his blog MuffinBottoms.org, "The blood lust of so many of my "countrymen" (and women) this week over news of Osama Bin Laden's death frightens me greatly as a human being but also as an army signal corps veteran." Frucht elaborated, "There should be a search for closure and catharsis throughout the land perhaps, and especially among those who lost loved ones but there should not be all this demonstrative applause and neo-patriotic joy."
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Frucht discussed candidly what he'd hoped to achieve by making the pilgrimage to Ground Zero for the first time since the 2001 terrorist attacks. "I hadn't been there since 1998. I couldn't go near it. To this day I've never been able to go there it just didn't feel right. I don't know where those feelings came from." But after bin Laden's death, "I had this feeling. I think I'll just go to Ground Zero and pray."
When Frucht arrived at Penn Station he hopped in a cab and went straight to his destination. Only five or six bystanders watched him lay his patch on the ground. "I placed it right near a sign that says, 'pray for peace' but also next to some army boots, people might have thought I was saying roo-hah."
The U.S. Army made Frucht a pacifist. He started doubting whether war and killing were the answer about six weeks into his hitch. "I was at basic training on my first 12 mile road march." His instructor had the men sit in a circle and announced, "I'm in radio contact and you're not. 2 MiG's flew over an aircraft carrier today and the carrier fired a warning shot." The planes didn't respond so the aircraft carrier shot them down. Then the instructor said that words that made Frucht suspect that war was about hatred and not security. "There are now between two and five dead Libyans out there." The men cheered.
On 9/11 Frucht was already working for peace but the killing of "his own" people made him really angry: Angry at "Osama, as a person, as a warrior, as the head of Al Qaeda." Still Frucht was against waging war in Afghanistan. He wanted bin Laden brought to justice, "But bombing would only leave the Taliban living while innocent women and children would die."
And nine years later -- when the U.S. finally got the man who had been blamed for all that suffering in the United States -- Frucht doesn't see any difference between the people bin Laden killed and the innocent people the U.S. war in Afghanistan or Iraq has killed, "I can't make any distinctions between those who died in our [9/11] bombings and those who we killed in our actions."
Frucht concluded, "I'm a pacifist. It happened in the army. Some people treat me like I'm a traitor. A lot of fellow veterans understand."
Now Frucht hopes leaving his 4th Infantry Division patch behind where so many Americans violently lost their lives will help him leave the last remnant of his inner warrior behind as well.