Sunday, July 31, 2005

Unadulterated Honesty In HTML Format

I suppose I'm in one of those more serious and slightly emo moods just now, but I do feel I have a few feelings I'd like to share with anyone who gives a shit.

First lets get this out of the way. I am scared shitless.

We ARE going to Iraq, we've been reassured of that every day since the day we put our names on paper and raised our hands. But then again, that IS what i signed up for, but not without a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. I want to see countries such as Iraq living in more peaceful conditions. I wish that for all the world. Everyone should be so immensely proud of their country that they would not rather live anywhere else. Everyone should be overjoyed to know that their country is a land where their children will grow up, live their lives, and pass that life on to their own children and grandchildren.

If I were walking down the street of my hometown, having stepped out of my car to trek across a parking lot and rent a movie, and I were to be knocked to the ground and temporarily deafened before I could even realize that an explosion occurred, only to learn that people just like you and me have just been eviscerated or maimed, for ANY reason, I can't even imagine how that would make me feel.

How did everyone feel during the Oklahoma City Bombing? Or the events from September 11th?

This was Sept 11 for me. I was a sophomore in High School. I always went an hour early because my father woke us up earlier than necessary, and I had nothing else to do. So I'd go early and just waste time. Anyway, I had walked into my first class, to set down my backpack, planning to sit in the computer lab and mess around on the internet.

My history teacher, and also the basketball coach, who would normally have almost nothing to do with me, asks, "Do you know anything about what's going on in New York?"

Me: Uh, no. (Must be baseball season [yeah, I'm that oblivious]).

Mr L: There was a plane crash, and it hit one of the Trade Towers. Help me bring a TV in here, CNN is covering it. (Not exact quote, but close).

Looking back, it seems like the typical cheesy beginning of an RPG you'd play on your PlayStation on a weeknight instead of studying. Homeland is attacked and devastated, and you, the reluctant hero, must defend what is right, etc. I want you to know that it wasn't until I began typing this paragraph that I realized the irony of it all, and I don't have words for it. So we'll move on.

We hooked up a TV, and I sat in my seat, watching this news coverage. At this point, we thought that SOMEONE was a very very bad pilot, or had been drinking on the job. If I remember correctly, it wasn't until right after class actually started (well, the bell rang) that the second plane hit.

I don't know how many of you saw it happen live. I did. Can't imagine what it must have been like in New York, to see it in front of you. It was surreal enough over a TV screen. To them, the apocalypse had come. There was no logic for that. Our own planes, inventions designed to make travel quick and convenient, were crashing into these immense buildings, these huge towers that were a landmark for one of our most famous cities, that represents us. This city has the Statue of Liberty. Hell, the only reason they didn't crash a plane into THAT is because there aren't enough people in them. What moral character they must have had.

Then, we're told that the Pentagon has been hit. Another plane crashed midflight. What the hell happens next?

And amidst this, and I WILL use his name on here. I hope someone reads this and KNOWS who I'm talking about. Robert Eskew. Rob Eskew, while watching the news, makes SPLAT noises and thumps his desk while people fall out of the towers. This piece of dogshit, tweaker. This all-black clad, too much hair-gel, worshipping SlipKnot (not a bad band, but some of you can relate to run-ins with some of their fans. SOME of them). Some fucked up individual, another kid who seems to feel that he isn't part of this. Someone who doesn't understand that WE ARE ALL IN LIFE TOGETHER. If a tidal wave swept across out town, he would be just as affected.

But hey, its on TV, its not real, is it? I mean, come on. Death and destruction, its funny. They deserve it, right? Shit, how dare they go to work, trying to earn a living. Omg, lyke, they werk 4 corprate amerika, they r stoopid. I guess we defend the weak of mind and spirit, along with some VERY GREAT PEOPLE.

When I was home on leave, after my training in the beautiful Georgia, I met a very cool guy who was an 11B stationed in Hawaii. He had come back from Afghanistan. Go ahead and tell me that we shouldn't be fighting Al Quaeda over there. Please do, I need a good laugh right now.

9/11 pissed us off. To no end. No better way to stir a nest of hornets (I apolgize for the cliche. Email me a better one and I'll edit this post). Now just imagine if we were Iraqis. Follow me for a minute. We're people who call God Allah (for the most part, I'm sure there are other religions there, too, but bear with me). We're people who've been oppressed beyond any means that we, the US citizens have had to see. Generations ago, the African Americans had it VERY rough. But could this be worse? If nothing else, it must be on the same plane. I wasn't there, so I can't say for sure, but you can follow the example.

We call God by the name of Allah, and religion is still a large part in our culture as a whole, not as removed as it feels in the US. Our land has seen turmoil that has lasted longer than the names of our families. Our leader, sociopathic and selfish, has been removed. Now we're being offered this thing called Democracy, the thing that the US has adopted from the beginning. We too, can live lives based off our own ability, and not what we believe, or what version we believe. Where we came from, that will never hold us back. Where we are willing to go, THAT is the only thing that matters.

And people just like us, people we care deeply about, are being killed. Imagine your best friend, your father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter. Imagine EVERYTHING that they are capable of, and everything that makes them a beautiful person.

And now imagine their lives WASTED, because someone else feels its necessary.

I'm sorry for being opinionated, but I really don't think that anyone can make that call. With one exception.

To preface what I'm about to say, I'm going to admit something slightly embarassing. As macho as we men are supposed to be, I can't hunt deer without feeling guilt that will keep me awake until I put me catch to use, by feeding my family. Its funny, yeah, but I feel a very heavy GUILT. Deer are a harmless and innocent species. A beautiful animal. I have to put a part of myself on hold to squeeze the trigger.

I won't put ANYTHING on hold for someone who is willing to kill innocents to attempt to get his view across (which, by the way, NEVER WORKS). I've spent many long nights awake thinking about this. I'm not a fan of killing. Other than movie violence, I detest violence. Its so wasteful. But if you're the type that will use another's life, which is NEVER yours to take, well, then you've wasted your own life, you've wasted who you are as a person, and you've forfeited your right for me to see beauty in your existence.

I've killed creatures who have done me no wrong. And life goes on for me. How do you think I'll feel to put people like you to an end?

If I have to endure PTSD and a lifetime of nightmares, even if it kills who I am as a person, I don't care, I will sacrifice it all. I will take as many of you twisted bastards down as I can. I only wish this page could be translated, printed off, and sent to your front doors, as a final warning before my unit deploys to do the job of a military, who contrary to popular belief, has a great deal of morals, unlike its adversary.

I'm sickened enough by the atrocites you commit in your own land. Do you think that while I have a single breath in my body, I will let you bring that to my home?

What Its Like Here

I'm on fire today, i guess. Either way, I owe you guys a few dozen posts for as silent as I've been the past month or so.

I arrived at Sea-Tac airport, stood outside and smoked a cigarette while trying to figure out how to get a cab to take me to the base. I ended up riding in a little limousine driven by a very nice Arabic fellow. He'd asked if I'd been to Iraq. Not yet. Back then, I had no idea when I'd be going. Now, I've got a fairly decent idea. But I probably can't say.

When I arrived on base, an E2 who had staff duty at the inprocessing battalion picked me up in those neat white Army vans, and I arrived at my temporary barracks. All I did that night was sit around, smoke, and BS with a guy I went to basic with, though he was from another platoon.

The next five days were extremely laid back. We didn't do PT, we really didn't do anything. Barracks maintenance in the morning, then we inprocessed at a building called Waller Hall. Waller Hall is a great location for one reason: its got a Starbucks in it. During in-processing, there are times when you NEED caffeine. It gets boring.

There were several NCOs (non-commissioned officers, sergeants) that were in processing as well. One day, we were standing in formation, and Sgt K (a very good humored guy) stepped out of formation for a brief moment. Now, I guess I had a wild hair up my ass or something, and I stand at parade rest and say, "Excuse me, sarn't, its my understanding that that isn't the correct method of breaking ranks."

He turned and looked at me.

"Whaaat? Push, fucker."

So, grinning, I do as I'm told, and before I could knock out two push-ups, he's telling me to recover. I dust my hands off and stand at ease. From then on, any time our in-processing platoon had to go anywhere that required driving, when our platoon sergeant told us all to find rides, Sgt K would turn around. "Where's Ryan at?" [My first name will serve as my last name in this case, there's enough bloggers getting in trouble, and I'd rather not get knee deep in shit doing something that I think is a positive outlet for me, as well as a realistic account for anyone on the outside who's interested in this lifestyle.]

After inprocessing, we were sent to our respective units. There's a half dozen of us from my basic training platoon that are now in this current platoon. Our Platoon Sgt is awesome. That's all there is to say.

We just recently received our weapons (and by that, I mean that the arms room has them now. I've yet to touch one). We'll be sporting M4s. This new unit is slowly getting all the equipment it needs, but until then, our training is a bit limited. We do a lot of land navigation, we've done some call-for-fire exercises, first aid, common and important tasks like that. We also ruckmarch a lot. I'm not a huge fan of ruckmarches. But it sure feels good to pass out when you're finally done.

More to come as events unfold, or more thoughts flow through this noggin of mine.

A Cool Glass of Water

Here's something very refreshing, from the comments of one of my earlier posts. This one means a lot to me.

Ryan, There are several "buzz phrases" being thrown around out there, "fighting for oil", "Bush lies/lied", "we are occupying Iraq", et all. The moment I hear one of these "lines" being spouted, I am sure the person has no clue what life is about, let alone what is going on in Iraq.

A case in point, Micheal Moore: he wants us to lose, so he can take control of a mindless group of pious sychophants and run the country from behind those he would support. It's a pity anyone can hate America so much that they attack our values with little or none of their own. The debate whether we should go to war in Iraq ended the day the war started. Our job now, is to see it through, as a union. We fight alongside the iraqis, not against them, and anyone that believes we should not be there, or did the wrong thing, should hold that opinion until the war is over, and our troops are back home.

To give the enemy even a hint that we are not united, is more devestating than any bomb can do. Americans and iraqis are dying, daily, much as we ourselves did in the revolution for these United States. The terrorists are there only to dash hopes, kill innocents, or innocence, and force people to capitulate to their wishes. Anyone that believes they are on the side of iraq is ...not well informed, at best. And anyone that believes we are occupying Iraq, just can not get their head out of the sand.

I stand by my iraqi brothers and sisters, as I know they will stand by us in the future, that is what the insurgents fear most. We will never let them win, for we will never give up hope, nor give in to those that would control us. Kill one, ten rise up to take his place, the tide has turned, it is no longer the insurgent that can make that claim. Good luck, Godspeed, and keep up the good fight.

Rik

The Long Awaited Update

Its been a good while since I've posted. Finally settled in here at my duty station. Previously, any time that I tried to post, something would come up and I'd have to put it off, or else for some reason, the post itself would not register. Either way, we've got plenty of catching up to do, old friends.

I'll touch more on Basic in a bit, but here's the quick and dirty from Graduation until current.

Spent a week in Atlanta with my family just hanging out, checking out Turner Field (DONT TOUCH THE GRASS!!!) etc. Also went to see Star Wars III, which was only a minor disappointment. Then, I finally made it home, reporting 5 days late for Hometown Recruiting Assistance. Glad I called in advance.

It was strange being out, being back in a totally civilian world. Everything was just as I'd left it, but at the same time, it felt extremely foreign, like it may feel if you were suddenly taken back to early childhood.

You'd sit there in restaurants, or from the passenger seat of a car, or in a seat at a Brave's game, watching everyone else. Watching them go on about their lives with an innocent self-importance. And somehow you knew that you'd probably end up returning to a similar state. I felt the same way Andy Dufresne felt when he finally made it out of prison in The Shawshank Redemption.

More than anything, I missed the guys that I'd been living and sweating with for three months. I'd hang out with my old friends, but save for a couple of the really good ones, they offered no real compensation. So I sat on my thirty days of leave, waiting anxiously to get back. I'd see some of them again. Others are only names in my email address book now. And others still are just names in my recollection. But at the same time, they're more than that. Gone, nevertheless. Hopefully I'll see them down the road.

Hometown Recruiting sucks, no argument about it. Sure, its free leave, but it doesn't change the fact that it SUCKS. I felt like I was just hassling people. No one walked up to me and said, "Hey, wanna join the Army? Huh? Do ya? Ya do, don't ya? Yeah. Take this little card here, and call a nice man called a Recroooter. Yeah, can you say 'recruiter'?"

No, I decided that I wanted to join. So I did. I find the nice recrooooter on my own. And four months later, there I was, walking through the mall I used to work in, wearing BDUs, my beret folded in my pocket, a stack of business cards in the other pocket. I feel really bad for telemarketers and door-to-door salesmen.

During this stint of recruiting, while I walked through Sam Goody in all of my glory, I found myself talking to two high school kids as I set to work beefing up my CD collection (after Basic, one has bank. Not for long though). I was usually pretty tongue-in-cheek about recruiting, and I wasn't going to hassle anyone who clearly was not interested. But one of these buttfucking little bastards pissed me off.

Me: Hey guys, (insert chitter chatter here, blah blah blah) are you at all interested in looking to the Army for something to do?

Dude 1: Nah.

Dude 2: No, but you may want to check out a nearby clan-rally. You should be able to find people of your calibur there.

Kind of funny, being that several of my company's drill sergeants were black. Our First Sergeant. Black. Some really good guys going through training with us. Black. Others, Mexican. Asian. Every color of the rainbow. But yeah, since he brought it up, might as well go ahead and point out that the Army is a VERY racist organization and we mistreat all who aren't white protestants. No African American has ever received a Congressional Medal of Honor, nope, uh uh. Not in my house.

I can't even be sarcastic about it for long. It just amazes me how ignorant some people can be. But its ok, because that kid can keep on spending his afternoons browsing through angsty T-shirts at Hot Topic and writing assembly-line quality punk songs about how daddy doesn't love him and the world oppresses his artistic spirit, and no one understands. Fucking douche bag.

There are times, when we forget why we do what it is we do. We get fed up with all of the bullshit, sick of being jerked around, sick of hearing the horseshit people have to say.

But then we run into the good people that we've almost forgotten. And we're reminded of what's important.

So on that note, Thank you.