I will make sure YOU are going
These friends are affluent, highly educated, calm & loving parents who embrace my daughter into a bright & welcoming circle that extends to include me as well.
We eventually speak about the war – an inevitable thing anywhere I am present. The husband, who is tall, solid, parenting the kids and baking a treat for us that he’s created, tells me he served in the first Gulf War.
I am shocked. I don’t remember what he is doing for a living but I know it is making them money.
He tells me he was in college & had joined the New York National Guard so he could supplement his income and continue with graduate school. His face reflects still the shock he expresses when he received his report to active duty papers.
The shock turns to pain & discomfort as he talks about all the ways he tried to get out of going to war. After considering jail & Canada, he finally remembers he had sustained a severe injury to his leg in a car accident the previous year. He rushes to his doctor who tells him there is no way he can subject his leg to the stresses of combat.
He recounts entering the commanding officer’s office – the one window that looked out onto a barren field, the fake wooden desk holding only the officer’s butt perched on the corner – as he hands the older white man his doctor’s excuse. The officer sweeps the papers out of his hands onto the floor, proclaiming "YOU are going" and sweeps in hopelessness and surrender.
He mimics the exact sweeping motion and desperation and shame now fills him once again.
We are all silenced and so sad for a moment. He tells us he went to Kuwait and returned home & got out of the guard as soon as he could.
He asks me what could he do? He tried everything. I tell him, it is not too late –there are many young men who feel like him, who are preyed upon by the military still, and who are being sent into as dangerous and even more dangerous situations – and he can help them.
He has not heard of Veterans for Peace or CCCO or Courage to Resist. I promise to email him all of those links.
It is devastating that a beautiful young man, highly educated, brilliant, loving, resourceful was unable to find the help to figure out how to not go to war.