Archive for May, 2008

A Memorial Service Yet To Be Held

May 26, 2008

Cloy.jpg  Veteran Cloy Richards

A memorial service yet to be held

By Cloy Richards
5-26-2008

     I received two phone calls today.  The calls had very similar messages in wording, yet totally different meanings to me.  The first was from a fellow veteran and activist, asking that I “try to have a peaceful Memorial Day”.  The second was from my brother, wishing me “a happy Memorial Day”.  If you’ve read my poem “Survivor’s Guilt” you already know that I find nothing “happy” about Memorial Day.  I type this letter in the hope that I may find some kind of peace today. 

Memorial:  something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc. as a monument or a holiday.

     It’s becoming all too apparent to me that every year, on this day, memories overtake everything.  Once again, I find my mind flooding with memories and my finger itching to pull the trigger and splatter those memories across the ceiling.  It would seem logical to assume that if memories are merely electronic imprints made on grey matter in my skull that 12 gauge triple aut buckshot is the best way to remove memories.  Maybe that’s just jarhead logic.  Before that day comes I want to share some memories with whomever wishes to read about them. 

     Most of all, I remember the pain.  The pain of back-to-back deployments; The pain of false pride; The pain of a military family’s last dinner together before the Marine heads to the armory to check out his rifle and wait for a white bus;  The pain of “let’s drink until we forget what happened”. 

     The pain of packing up a fellow Marine’s combat gear and personal belongings to send back to the states because he didn’t have any legs, arms, chest or back to carry it back with him. It’s a double edged sword, but lucky for him, he didn’t have a head to carry back any memories with either.  Even more pain when I couldn’t stick a letter in with his stuff to tell his parents that their son had died for a good cause.

     I remember the Marines.  Not a single one of them needed a campaign medal or a combat action ribbon to wear on their uniform to prove that they had seen what they had seen and endured what they had endured.  Most of them wore it on their faces.  All wore it on their hearts.  When looking back I remember everyone understanding everyone else’s pain, because everyone felt it to the same degree, just at different times.  We held each other up and helped each other through, and I’ll always have that memory.

     I remember July 15, 2005 with Camp Pendleton in my rear-view, and I was scared.  I was scared because I had always thought that when I left, I’d be leaving my memories behind, but they were in the backseat when I left, following me everywhere, no matter how far I run.  I guess the memory of a young Iraqi girl losing her face and arm because of American ordnance is a memory with some strong legs on it.  I don’t even run from them anymore, I’ll just end up dying tired. 

    I remember dying.  I see it happen over and over again in my head.  It’s happened so many times, I can’t stop thinking about it.  Like when I killed a man for the first time, and the second time and the 50th time.  Like when I didn’t have the balls to speak how I truly felt and declare ” I refuse to take part in this depraved lunacy”. I’ve died so many times, I’ve forgotten how to live.

    So, today is a day for memories, specifically the memory of all those who have made a sacrifice for this country.  Today I will honor and remember my morality and my dignity, along with all the heroes who have fallen.  May they rest in peace.

I wish for all my brothers and sisters who have ever worn the uniform, that they may find peace this Memorial Day, and that everyone keeps their memories close to their heart.

God bless,

Cloy  

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Memorial Day 2008

May 26, 2008

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I just turned NPR off in outrage. It is Memorial Day during a war of aggression that has taken the lives of over four thousand US military, left hundreds of thousands maimed in mind and body, and a million dead in Iraq, millions of people refugees and homeless, and ancient treasures of human civilization destroyed. NPR, at one time an excellent source of news for people in the US, was covering a tennis tournament.

By sharp contrast, Agence France Presse recently told that country’s government that it is not a blog on which the French government can post what it chooses, that it has an editorial policy, and that the editors will decide what is published. In democracies, where there is regulation of the government and accountablilty, public news agencies are independent. In authoritarian regimes such as ours, they are propaganda organs of the repressive state. This regime wants its citizens ignorant and distracted. NPR is accommodating.

I should turn on NPR and hear the names of all those killed in this war and coverage of the atrocities being perpetrated with our tax money. But if that sort of news had been broadcast from the start, would this war still be going on?

Patrice reminded me lately that I should have a camera with me at all times because the media is completely in the pocket of the regime and we are all called on to report the truth of this period.

The truth now is so montrous and so obfuscated that I cannot really tell it. I can, however, lament the members of the US military service who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can lament the returning veterans who are neglected and mistreated by the policy and the incompetence of this regime. I mourn those who are so maimed in body that they will never recover, those so injured in mind that they take their own livers or live in desperation. I mourn those who have been tortured and those whose work in the service was to torture others.

On this Memorial Day, I remember. I remember democracy in this country. George and I were singing “My country ’tis of thee” last night, but I can no longer call it the sweet land of liberty. We are the bitter land of aggression and oppression. Never perfect in offering liberties to all, this country once aspired to do so. Its principles allowed reformers and patriots to challenge its failings. I remember that. I remember habeas corpus rights and the principle of presumption of innocence until guilt is proved. I remember elected officials who responded to constituents and who were not wholly owned by big corporations.

I don’t know what to do to restore this country. I have written, called, marched, protested, blogged, published articles. I will continue to do what I can to effect positive change.

But today, I will mourn. I will mourn those who have died serving their country, mine and others. I will mourn the death of freedom and liberty here. I will not turn away nor distract myself today.

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IVAW member Matthis Chiroux announces his refusal to deploy to Iraq

May 15, 2008

Matthis Cheroux.jpg  Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, who served in the Army until being honorably discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Phillipines, today publicly announced his intention to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. Sgt. Chiroux made made his announcement in the Cannon House Office Building Rotunda after members of Iraq Veterans Against the War testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus during Winter Soldier on the Hill. Sgt. Chiroux made the following statement to the press.

“Good afternoon.  My name is Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, and I served in the Army as a Photojournalist until being honorably discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Phillipines. As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember’s stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand. In February, I received a letter from the Army ordering my return to active duty, for the purpose of mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thanks in great part to the truths of war being fearlessly spoken by my fellow IVAW members, I stand before you today with the strength, clarity and resolve to declare to the military and the world that this Soldier will not be deploying to Iraq. This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.”

To donate to IVAW’s Legal Fund to support Matthis and other servicemembers who are refusing to support the occupation of Iraq, go to http://ivaw.org and select “Legal Fund” under special projects. If you would like to send a message of support to Sgt Matthis Chiroux, email thankyoumatthis@ivaw.org.