Date: December ??, 2003
This selection from “In Self Defense: The Life and Times of An Atheist BoyLover…Memoirs and Ethos”, has been narrated by Rocco White. Please enjoy the listen, or read along if you like…or need to.
Back in 1990, it seemed so impossible to me…
…until the day it became a nightmare come true.
I never fancied myself, as a “he man” type…though, I was physically nothing to scoff at, either. I had enough self determination and will, to make it through the pain and trials…I became a soldier.
I was never a great soldier. I was there, and I was competent, but…it was never the real me. Instead, it was something I was talked into, for reasons which were not essentially patriotic. I was a soldier, none the less, and found some pride in knowing that I was a defender…some one who volunteered to thwart off the bad guys. It started my mark in life, and history.
No one ever thought, that in such a short span of time, we would be thrust into a true to life war.
What is this place called “Saudi Arabia”? Who is this person named “Saddam Hussein”…and why do we care?
Why had they never been a matter of interest to us, previously?…I just didn’t know why…and it was mind boggling, how my life would, from that point on, forever be entwined with them.
Even as the situation was heating up, I never believed I or any of my friends would go. When asked, I told my aunt, “I’m not concerned about it”…thinking, it would blow over…It was an impossibility.
Then, our unit got put on alert…we might be mobilized and sent to serve right in the thick of things. A lot of uneasy chatter and joking around ensued, in order to ease the tension…”There’s no way they’re going to send this fucked up company to go fight a war”…
We saw the pictures on the news, as we’ve seen them repeated for so many years…a plump Iraqi in a military uniform, shooting guns in the air, making his demands, his threats…acting as an intimidating commander, who commands respect…a self glorifying ruler, who celebrates himself, and his persona of being…I don’t know what…undefeatable?…power crazed?…privileged?
Up until some point in time, I never contemplated that someone I’d never heard of, could effect the lives of so many, including mine own, so profoundly…ultimate.
There are few things in my life, which I remember so clearly…but, I remember the day I got the call…first, from my brother, then from my squad leader.
My heart just sank. I was in shock.
Here we were, everyone saying this was going to be the next Vietnam, and I’d just been told, that I was being thrown into the middle of it all.
It felt like a death sentence.
…and I was so damned young…but, that’s what wars do…They kill the young.
I don’t always know where the strength comes from…I know fear, but…I am not a coward. I live by my word and my honor, and I walked along side my companions, into an unknown, that might hold terrifying consequences for any or all of us.
What is this place called “Saudi Arabia”? Who is this person named “Saddam Hussein”…and why are we going to die over them?
We were soldiers…
We faced the devil…Win or lose, we did it…We confronted our fears, face to face…head on…and we were bigger, we were better…we overcame the threat…and, many of us still live to talk about it.
Every battle leaves its’ scars, though.
I took comfort and pride, knowing that we were helping a country in need (Saudi Arabia), and believing that we were going to make a difference in the future of Iraq…a difference for the better. It seemed so…humanitarian.
I could never forget this time in my life…It was the last, dying days of a youth that was stripped from me. I spent the last of my really great days, living in a desolate dessert, not knowing what was going to happen to me….But, I stayed the course…I was a soldier.
What is this place called “Saudi Arabia”? Who is this person named “Saddam Hussein”…and why had we ever really been there?
…This still was not clear to me, even as we arrived home to a heroes welcome.
They celebrated us, and our triumph…everything was grand…for a time.
I can not tell you what followed, and make you honestly understand. I still don’t fully understand it, nor want to believe it myself…but, I died many years ago. I was never buried, but the person I was, ceased to exist, and all that remained was hell and terror. The darkest, scariest thing I have ever encountered.
I believe, without question, I should have died physically, years ago.
I don’t know why I lived…I guess, that strength came to me, again…I guess, I was stronger than my trials. I wanted to die. I wanted it all to end…but, I remained, went through every nightmarish moment, survived, was brought back through time and some chance set of events, and have since been rebuilding my life, from the shambles it had become.
Life has been a serious struggle….but, I’m no coward…and I live to tell about it.
Nothing is perfect, and I don’t expect to ever be “normal” again.
All this…all these wasted years…all this pain…so much that was lost, which will never be replaced…all from being a pawn, in a game played by one plump, glorified, spoiled, selfish Iraqi, on the other side of the planet, named Saddam Hussein.
I was lucky, though….I could be dead…
What is this place called “Saudi Arabia”? Who is this person named “Saddam Hussein”…and why have they haunted my life, ever since?
Today, I know the answer…
Saudi Arabia is a traitor, which never deserved my sacrifices, nor the sacrifices of any American (soldier, or not). The thankless suffering, for a state which hates us, and holds us in contempt, was never worth going through.
Saddam…far from a courageous hero…this…life form, only finds courage, while at the butt end of a rifle, with an army standing in front of him, to fight and die for his tyrannical inhumanity.
Saddam, when his crutches are taken away, is a trembling, scared old man, cowering in a rat hole. Saddam was a textbook bully…and in his heart, he was a total coward, who relied on terrorism to make his way in life, because few would accept him, otherwise.
Saddam was a “big man”, back in 1991…back when he arrogantly predicted mass slaughters of us “infidels”…back when he was having his people send letters to the families of American soldiers, telling our loved ones that we would/might be killed, or suffer ill fates.
Today, he is what he always has been…a coward…and a failure.
I survive, I persist, and I thrive, despite you, Saddam. In fact, I hope my survival does spite you. That is reason enough for me to live another day, after another day, after another…celebrating my own longevity…When you are gone, I will still be here…and that is my own, personal triumph over you.
Today…the lowly pawn of yesteryear, looks upon the once powerful and mighty Saddam…and you can rest assured, I am just exactly as impressed today, as I was the first day I laid eyes on your plump, arrogant, homely frame.
I’m glad the real Saddam is finally laid bare for the world to see. This is but a miniscule price, compared to what so many of us low foot soldiers had to endure, because of Saddam.
……The view is quite different today, isn’t it? The pawn has his life back, the pawn is looking down on that fallen, broken wretch of a life, which no longer even has its’ own freedom….Now, it’s Saddam’s turn to face the unknown, and a terrifying, uncertain future. It’s time to face your mortality, Saddam.
Go ahead, tremble, cower…soil yourself if you must…You are a coward and nothing more. You were never even one fraction of the man, that I am, or have ever been.
Doesn’t feel good having the roles reversed, and being helplessly at the cruel whims of others…now does it?…
I don’t have hate in my heart for you…as you no longer hold any type of power over me, and I haven’t the time to be weighed down by such negativity…but, for the record, I am hoping that you get every single thing you have earned for yourself.
Fair well, my plump, Iraqi “friend”…I’ll always remember you as the destructive coward you are…
Thanks for the memories…though, I’d have rather had the chance to say “no thanks”…