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Archive for the ‘Patriotic’ Category

I was barely shaving when I left home, had barely been kissed before I
shipped out. I missed that whole part where one has fun growing up. I
sorta skipped over it and learned how to be a part of the team, the
solution, the big stick some fellas back in Washington like to use to
get their point across.
God, I’m tired…I’m way too young to have grown so old. And I wonder; can I ever really go home?

What am I to do when I get home? I haven’t been anywhere without my
pack, flak jacket, desert fatigues; rifle and sidearm, bandoleer and
ammo, for over a year. Gone anywhere without a hyperactive awareness of
looming death. I haven’t walked a block without a possibility that I
may have to take a life to survive walking another, for far too long.

What am I gonna do with all that quiet keeping me awake at night. I
fear the thunder of a kid’s 4000 watt stereo in his tuner car will be
reminiscent of artillery and the battle raging.

What am I to do on the fourth of July when the flags are raised,
burgers are grilling, and fireworks are exploding? Will I go back to a
place where death was abound? Will I be lost in the moments that might
never pass, in a state of confusion you won’t understand?

Who will I turn to when my squad is no longer at my side? Who will have
my back when the nightmares find me back in the midst of the fight, the
smoking charred HumVees, melted roadways and broken souls? Will I ever
feel at home again after living in this impossible hell? Will I hear
the sounds of the departing, the prayers and confessions that were
desperately offered up while the shit was going down?

And will people sense and resent the places I’ve been, the things duty
had me do, the horror I’ve witnessed and been a part of? Will they
sense the disregard for life I had to adopt for extended periods, the
instinct to survive and protect my fellow compatriots first? It was
just my mission…Will they sense what I’ve gleaned and will it be
misunderstood?

And what about the loss of trust in those around me? That luxury was
lost about the time I watched a morning market transformed to a scene
of slaughtered innocents without prejudice or regard. Exploding cars
are indiscriminate and callous. You just can’t imagine, even after
seeing the footage on CNN. There may have been survivors after the
smoke cleared, but even they were victims of what will prove to be
impossible to comprehend. I know I’ll never be the same. Nor will
mornings ever be the same…

I’m gonna need a place to lean, some souls that know the score. I’m so
full of what I hadn’t imagined, what I never really wanted to know. I’m
gonna feel the thump of artillery rounds, when it ravages the air and
assaults the ground. I’m gonna smell the smell of smoking rounds as the
lead takes leave of the barrel and a rainfall of hot brass makes a
spattered puddle of death around my feet. I’m gonna be filled with the
scents of fear that have surrounded me as a sense of fear enveloped me
and those brave souls that have lived, fought, and died all around me.

I’m gonna want to talk about it, gonna need to cry out loud, gonna have
to hold it in, gonna fight to keep it together. I’m a little afraid I
might feel this way forever, but it’s not the way I want to feel again,
ever.

I’m thinking, always thinking. Dreaming, sometimes wake up screaming. I
wonder who’s gonna want to share my room, who’s gonna have enough heart
to help me rediscover my dreams.

And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to stand the feel of gritty hot sand.
Sand belongs at the beach, in memories of childhood summers…now it has
become the stuff that stole my childhood, took away the joy I’d kept
inside. I know I’ve been fortunate to have escaped with my life, but in
truth, the life I lived before I deployed escaped the second I stepped
off that plane. The life I’ll live with has been unfolding in front of
me, and in the midst of this bedlam; lives have unraveled and been
shattered. Folks have been robbed of everything that mattered. Oh I
know this is the stuff that war is made of, but I never imagined that
same stuff would become an anchor within my mind and a shard of
lingered hurt in the heart in me.

To be sure, I’ve made some of the tightest friends over here, and I
hope we don’t simply wind up scattered in life’s wind. They’re the only
ones that will truly always understand…so I hope we’ll somehow manage
to keep in touch.

But I’m also gonna need some other special souls to reintroduce me to
the world at home. Some to hold me when I cry. I’m gonna need all of
you to be there when I get back. I need to feel your thanks, your
patience, and your willingness to accept there will always be some
things you won’t understand. And your wisdom to help me deal with parts
I won’t ever understand.

And please, be a good soul and keep in mind that the most painful and
misunderstood injuries can be ones that never break the skin. The most
decimated souls might be the ones with no outward sign of wounds at
all. Don’t forget that in war, we all become casualties, but some of us
aren’t fortunate enough to carry scars you all can see that make the
damage easier to accept and understand.

I only carried the weapon, the pack, the body armor and helmet for four
years, but I’m going to have to carry the residue of service to my
country forever. Discharge papers don’t wipe the slate or the memory
clean, but they might make a lot of folks at home forget to take care
of those who gave and keep giving so much to take care of them. I was
there for you in your hours of need, please be there when mine
arrive…I’ll be back presently, please see to it I find myself a home at
home.

Matthew Lyle Landsman
June 2008.

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I heard about a good old boy sheriff named Joe in Maricopa County
Arizona. Got himself an idea to save tax dollars and put some bad guys
to work to save that money. Makes those criminals grow veggies and
hogs, and take care of stray critters till someone takes them home.
These tough guys are living behind barbed wire with just fans to keep
‘em cool in a lot of sun-baked tents. So hot them rugged desperados
gotta strip down to boxers and socks to make it livable. Seems them
misguided souls are getting’ to thinking this is inhumane treatment and
a lot of pity parties are being thrown behind the bar-less crowbar
hotel in the midst of all that cactus.

I got a few thoughts to help the poor incarcerated lot of you out in
your hour of need. SHUT THE HELL UP, CRIMINALS! This is your punishment
for screwing up, so suck it up and be a man. There are folks over here
been doing time in this war zone for years now. Three, four tours in
REAL heat. Not resort heat like you pansies lounge in. They don’t worry
a whole lot about strutting and representing like you sorry little gang
bangers in your summer camp. These folks get to wear full battle gear
day and night, get to worry about a population full of psycho suicide
tendencied jihad driven madmen. My fellow compatriots left spouses at
home, kids, folks, pets, real jobs, and a country full of grateful
citizens. And here’s the best part. These are bullet dodging, do
anything they’re asked without whining or flinching warriors…and a
whole lot of these real tough guys are GALS! And they aren’t being
punished for crimes. They are just volunteers with more balls than you
pathetic repeat offenders. And here’s the clincher…Some of these gals
and guys have no idea when they’ll see home again. Some of them will
only go home after they have given their all and make the last part of
the journey under a flag.

You punks cry for your mothers when the nights get long while you’re
doin’ time. I can tell you some of my fellow volunteers were calling
for their daddies and moms when the blood was flowing and their hope
was fading. But these gallant men and women in arms weren’t going to
lose their dignity even in the face of death.

You could learn a great deal from even the slightest of these brave
souls. All of you. Trust me, 120 degrees might as well be 200 when the
flack jacket is filled with sweat, boots are baked feet in hot sand
ovens. Then throw in firefights, incoming mortars, suicide bombers,
roadside bombs and a culture that looks down on our women. That is
heat.

So grow a set, convicts. ALL of us over here already had ours long
before we stepped off the planes, and some of us are better known as
‘mommy’ back home.

Give ‘em hell, Joe in Arizona, and tell the campers we’re over here
fighting ‘cause they are otherwise unavailable to step up and lend us a
hand.

Signed, the true tough guys and gals here in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A tribute to our armed forces…by Matthew Landsman

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This essay was written about my nephew and his craft. He served in Iraq starting in ’03 when this war started.

I’m a Marine scout sniper…I am the best of the best, the mightiest wielder of unseen decisive actions known. I am a physical specimen. I can out-run you, out-think you, out-wait you, and out-gun you. I am a chosen one without peer, except among my own kind serving under the stars and stripes.

I will sacrifice sleep, comfort, weight, my youth, my innocence…And I will also gladly sacrifice you, without hesitation, remorse, or regret. When you leave the bounds of this good earth, a lot of my brothers in arms will be given a little breathing room and maybe live to see another day. It’s my job to see you don’t get to do your job.

There is a song by The Police called “I’ll Be Watching You”…it includes the lines:

Every move you make…
Every step you take…
I’ll be watching you…

And while I do, I will be in plain sight, but you won’t see me. I will remain motionless for as long as need be, for days, literally. I will rest when you are over. I know your patterns, your role, and your reason for being where you are, for what you do there. I won’t think about your home, your family, your past, your dreams, aspirations or plans for the future. I hold you in contempt and do so with a strong degree of malice. When I do what I do best, you will cease to have a future, and your past won’t matter a whole lot either. While I seal your fate, I’m protecting the fate of my brothers.

In silent wait, I know your intentions and your potential to reduce the ranks of my compadres. In quiet vigil I will think only of my brothers you won’t get the chance to harm. I can do this in my sleep now as months of training guide my fingers, my eyes, still my hands, steady my ragged breath. I have been awake here for fifty six hours. I’ll catch up on my sleep after I canoe your head…For now, I’m pissed off, but completely objective. I scarcely have to think as I exchange words with the brass, get readings of wind headings and speeds, of distances and all things relevant to the success of your demise. I will load one very convincing round into the chamber of my rifle. I will adjust five clicks clockwise to fight the wind, six for elevation…compensation for variables between my deciding hand, and your impending doom. I will do it all very deliberately and carefully, for the love of my brothers relying on me here, for my dedication to The Corp, to duty and honor. I will impose my will on you, before you do the same upon me and mine. Day or night, I will peer at you through a long eye of glass. There are other names for your death here at my end; The M-40A1 rifle, my unerring hand, impeccable aim, and undeniable will.

Whether you like it or not, the hand of the angel Gabriel is encompassing my trigger finger. We will have the final say and you will soon have taken your final breath, watched your last sunset, smelled your last smell, had your last thought, and fulfilled your last bad intention. In a few moments, it will be good to be me, and, well…it will have been bad to be you.

In a strange way, I am the answer to your prayers. You look forward to meeting your God, and I am about to see to it that can happen real soon. You ought to be thanking me really. I am your deliverer. Personally, I don’t care whether you have a soul or not, or where it’s going if you do. I care so much that I care not. I am about to deliver 168 grains of uncaring and very prejudicial finality, put in motion by 46 grains of quick burning furious commotion, to a place better known as ‘center mass’. Don’t worry though; lightening will strike long before the report is heard by anyone.

It’s me or it’s you. I think you’ll soon know who I decided will be going home at the end of the day. “One shot, one kill”. You aren’t worth wasting a second round on…and hey, I got my pride…

I’m taking your life to save the lives of others. It ain’t personal. I’m a Marine scout sniper, and in just a second…and about six hundred yards…ah hell, it took less time than that and it’s already over. You’ve stopped being whatever you may have been. To hell with you…I gotta get on with my job. I have more lives to ‘save’…Semper Fi.

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