Purchasing Pain of Future Pasts

missing-pics

9/11 is maddening to me. Like every single one of you reading this I remember precisely where I was. What I was doing. The feeling of surreality that the world was somehow ending. The silence overhead for the ensuing week. Grief, rage, patriotism. I also remember going to my local 711 and warning Said to keep his head down because people were going to be thinking and doing some stupid shit soon. Said had as much to do with 19 shitheads from Saudi Arabia flying planes into buildings as you and I did. That is to say, nothing.
I remember tailgating at a Raider game when word got out that we were bombing terrorist camps in Afghanistan. The feeling of release and vengeance coursed through me and I felt good about it. Really good. Then the media machine geared up for what was obvious to everyone as an oncoming invasion of Iraq and I wasn’t buying the hype. Not because I’m cleverer than you or because I hate America but because I sat in my break room at work one day and read, tucked back in page A13 of the SJ Merc, about how the cylinders the Whitehouse was claiming had tactical warheads easily launched from mobile command centers were in fact not the right size, nor shape to function as such. A point never addressed by the media, military or President. And so I worried.
That was 10 years ago. We’ve been at war ever since, playing whack-a-mole all over the middle east. It will never end. It polarizes us like little else. I watch my countrymen pass or fail social litmus tests; are you for the war or not? Are you a real American or not? Do you support the troops or not?
I’ve flown a flag in front of my house since 9/11. (Need to get a new one) I make a point of clearing up when people approach me to thank me for my service with earnest pride and heart ache in their eyes while pointedly not looking at my fake leg that I’m just an old diabetic, not a vet but please don’t stop thanking them. I have many friends who ran off to serve. I have several friends who lost people in the Towers that day. I have friends who were firefighters and cops. I love my country and am proud to be an American. I support the troops and hate the VA and the congress that refused to fund their needs after returning home with traumatic brain injuries, depression, PTSD. I wonder aloud – all the time – why we put them in harm’s way in the first place. I wonder why we, as a nation, abjectly refuse to look at why those planes killed 3000 souls that day and subsequently 1400 first responders in the following years. It was not the world’s worst sucker punch. We need to understand *why* that happened to move forward. It’s not weakness nor cowardice nor unpatriotic to look within. It’s being a grown up. I don’t think we’re there yet – by a stretch.
I love America.
And I hate nationalism.

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