Monday, September 21, 2009


I heard a song yesterday that took me back to that all too familiar stare. I heard the first few notes, I closed my eyes and there I was...I was driving that Humvee down MSR (main supply route) Bronze heading outside the wire in Al Qaim, Iraq. I was proud of my ingenious setup. I rigged my Ipod and some external computer speakers there in the Humvee so that I could hear a refrain replay in my head other than, "Please don't blow up...please don't blow up" as I drove passed IED craters in the road. The song that I heard yesterday was one of my favorites at the time; Bad Company. And as is so often the case, I began to think about one small, minute (read small) memory of that place and I was fixated for an hour.

In that hour, I found understanding. I found release. I found peace. I found peace because I accepted that it will never go away. It gets easier as time and age replaces my memories, but it will never completely go away. A song, a smell, a sight, a sound and I will be right back there. I will return to the war-induced numbness that I had over there-for the rest of my life-at the simple hearing of a song. And it was and is just that...a numbness; an apathetic acceptance of my mortality. It was a coping mechanism. I thought I was over it. Yesterday, a song showed me otherwise.

I am not unique. I am not special. I am not alone. The very few Vets that I have spoken to, simply smile as I tell them of my condition. It is in that smile that I know I am perfectly normal and I am not alone. Their smiles say, "Welcome to our world. Your story sounds like life to us." I lost a part of my life over there, and a song showed me yesterday that I will never, ever get it back.


Anonymous said...

At 57 and not knowing your age, I can tell you're young and wiser than your years. I'm impressed with your style of writing and your ability to convey your heart-felt experience.

I would like to take this moment to share some of my own wisdom of 57 years? At the end of your piece (America's Son) you said you realized you lost a part of your life 'over there'. I have learned that this is not 'losing' life...this IS life and I'm sure if you look closer you'll see that what you lost was an illusion of what we've been taught life is 'supposed' to be. I call this illusion 'the dream''s like a fairy tale we've been led to believe is or should be true.

What you experienced was the 'truth' of life and hopefully in years to come you'll see that you gained a whole lot more than you think you lost. Those experiences will shape the rest of you for the rest of your life and will make an indelible impact on you, your family and your future.

Thank you my Son, for taking care of me and making my life in our country a little safer. I appreciate it. May you continue to find the gifts of life EVEN in the most difficult challenges.


Anonymous said...

America's Son....I am your twin brother in blue...we work for the same department and went to Academy together...I wasn't over there in country but if you need to talk I have an ear for you. You know how to reach me. May God continue to bless you and keep you safe.

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