“Alicia, look at what Penelope’s companion wrote on Facebook,” Stephens called as night darkened their cabin. “Don, about Vietnam. His time there. He shared the post of a friend in Tennessee. Says it offers what he’d like to say.”
Lys sat next to Stephens on their couch. He was reading from his digital tablet. He handed it to her. The post, she saw, was written by a carpenter friend and a Vietnam war veteran with PTSD, like Don Richter:
“To be honest folks, none of the people I killed in Vietnam had a damn thing to do with our ‘freedoms.’ In fact very little to none of the killing done since dispatching Hitler have had anything to do with American or anyone else’s freedoms.
“The killing, the trauma of the troops and victims have overwhelmingly been done in the name of empire and cheap resources and cheaper puppets installed for their useful lives … Saddam, Taliban, Marcos, etc.
“Serving has little to do with national honor, but everything to do with the personal honor of watching one another's back when sent to be pawns for the empire and doing the best you can do in untenable situations. If you want to honor the service of us pawns of the empire, demand Veterans care and rights for screwing up a lifetime for the empire …”
Lys looked at Stephens. “I’m stunned.”
“The unspoken, from Don, spoken in a public forum by his friend,” Stephens said. He moved his finger across the tablet’s screen to the “like” button and depressed it. “Powerful, Don,” he wrote in the comment window.
All this now, Stephens thought, my story about Tina in Nicaragua, Don's post of a Vietnam vet’s compelling Facebook post about his own killings, the ongoing onslaughts worldwide - I'm so drawn to those times in my past when I was engaged with fervor and strong commitment, either by being present at the scene as a social-justice advocate or as part of the collective voice who helped communicate the injustices.
But what? Though other human-rights efforts were more substantial and in-depth, the one that sticks out the most, that hits my soul and heart the most, involves the trips to Palestine about a decade ago.
Why? I can't say why, it's there. Every inch and moment of it. Never entered Gaza, only the West Bank, not to say that the brutality doesn't play out in the West Bank from what I saw, know to be true, as I continue to follow what's going on. I've got to explore this more, I can't shunt it aside.
He turned in his tablet to a photo he took of school children in Beit Jala, in the Bethlehem District of the West Bank. “God, they’re grown up now.”
Photo © 2001 Wes Rehberg ...