This was a discussion post to my American lit class. I cried lots. Ask Chris. Ask Cheetara. Ask Cinque. He's still hanging out in bed with me.
"As an OIF veteran , one of the two (or maybe three) in this class, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around any of the pieces we looked at this week. I understand them, that's not the problem, I just cannot think of a way to respond to them or anyone's posts on them so that you may understand without thinking I'm completely crazy. This might sound like a cop-out to some, but when you can fill in my size 4 combat boots, we'll talk. The title alone of Taggard's “To the Veteran's of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” first made me think of the sweaty hours I spent waiting for a flight in Kuwait. I was reading Harry Potter (Deathly Hallows) and it made me think of Dumbledore's Army. The kids at Hogwarts would do anything to stand up for what they thought was just, they even formed a militia in support of their ideals. February 11, 2001. I joined a “militia” very similar to this at the age of 17. I thought I was going after the “bad guys” and I had not even graduated high school yet. I wanted to graduate early, but when the papers needed to be signed, everything was based on a moral decision. The principle of my high school would not let me graduate early because he feared my blood on his hands if something happened to me. I went along in my military career for another four and a half years before I finally made it overseas. I joined to “fight the fight,” just like the non-spanish speakers in Taggard's poem. While George Bush was waging the war on terrorism I knew nothing about Islam. It never even occurred to me that it was a religion until a few months before I started to train at Ft. Dix to go in the combat zone. Silly right? I was as naïve as the kids in Taggard's poem. I just wanted to get the “wrong doers.” I wanted to catch (kill) the commies and make America proud. It wasn't until my tour in Iraq that I was aware of my mental illness, obsessive compulsive disorder. Until then I thought I was picky, but my battle buddies told me I was crazy and my that rituals were cumbersome. This in particular reminds me of FDR's speech “The Four Freedoms” because the “freedom” I am most grateful for is the “freedom from fear.” From my first month in Iraq on I was afraid. I acted big and tough (and still do), but on the inside I knew that that the Cinnabon I got after a 2 hour bus ride had to be eaten from the the center out. I never knew if a mortar would hit our bus or if our bus driver was evil and would cart us off base. All I knew was that I would probably die without yumminess of the center of a Cinnabon bun in my tummy. I also (knew) thought that my roommates on post and loved ones at home would be disgusted to know that my uniforms were folded sloppily. I also felt that if I didn't maintain some sort of routine and order in the middle of chaos, I might lose part of my self. This was and still is fear that we should never have to live through. The freedom from fear is something I dream of everyday. The idea that I might disappoint someone whom I care for is a constant fear. I believe that by giving up a part of my life I may have given someone else a bit of peace."