Stories from the Station: We, the bullies
A neatly dressed, professional suited womon appearing to be in her 30’s but probably closer to 50, approaches us this morning at the station. Her pretty, coifed black hair frames a small, almost expressionless face. When she speaks, slowly, perfectly, her face gives no clue so we can’t first fathom her words.
Then it becomes clear. She is a survivor of our invasion of Vietnam. She witnessed her village, her young life turning from beautiful, lush, calm, simple living to death, destruction, chaos, and always always pain and fear. Real fear.
She speaks haltingly of the losses, the deaths, what was and what is no longer. She speaks of propaganda, chemical weapons, bombs, fleeing her birth place.
Her face is now filled with such deep sorrow, her eyes unfathomable pools of horror, her checks wet. She says we must know that the worst thing is not yet over for the people of Vietnam but is happening right now. She says Vietnam will NEVER recover from the U.S. invasion and occupation – not the land, not the people, not the country.
She talks about going to Vietnam, American tourists, getting a hotel, going down to the restaurant in the hotel, ordering food, getting up to leave and seeing little bodies of children swarming to the abandoned table to snatch the crumbs left, shoving whatever they can in their mouths and leaving so quickly she only knew they were there because of the shine on the plate that used to have scraps left behind.
She talks about these children’s mothers with such profound sorrow, and how these mothers cannot find food for their children. She says never have mothers not been able to find food for their children, even during the many occupations of her country, until this last one. She believes we are still occupying Vietnam, our ghosts as well as our corporations.
She looks us in the eye and says we are doing the very same thing in Iraq. She says Iraq, the people, the land, the country, will NEVER recover. She tells us to NEVER stop what we are doing. She points to the recruiting station and says something in Vietnamese that I can’t understand.
We invite her to join us, to come back, to stand with us. We hug, sobbing deeply. She barely comes to my shoulder – and I am only 5’1 ½” tall.
I think of how diminutive the people of Vietnam are – and the people of Iraq. How huge our U.S. soldiers look, as they are dragging a small Iraq man off to be tortured, imprisoned. How we are such huge bullies – when do we attack people who have a fighting chance? Never. Like cowardly batterers, who wouldn’t raise a fist to a male his own size, we find small, diminutive bodies as well as countries that have no weaponry that comes close to matching ours, to attack.