I know, that’s not an appealing title for a post. I have had a few days to really let this one marinate, to brainstorm, to come up with a way to say what I want to say.
I also think I know how my students feel when I ask them to write something from the heart, to really think on and reflect on what they want to say.
I read an article by one of my favorite authors, Phil Klay. I had the pleasure to meet him at the Carbondale Public Library a few years ago when his book, Redeployment, was making waves. His book was a big chunk of my master’s thesis, and I met him during a time in my life when I was trying to understand the veteran perspective, narrative, and well, war.
The title of this article struck me.
“War, loss & unthinkable youth: What a Conflict this Long Does to those Who Fight It, and to Our Democracy”
Now, before you stop reading and think this is a political rant or post, it most certainly is not.
This article makes you think about the generations who have been long embedded in the various conflicts our nation has been part of.
Klay opens with a visit to Arlington Cemetery, where he and his brother are going to visit Section 60, the generation of Veterans who are their age. He writes this next…
“I walked to the row of the newest graves and there, inscribed, I read: 1990. 1991. 1992. I stopped, startled by the unexpected dates. I don’t know why, but it never really hit home for me until that moment that, of course, this war would eventually start eating the children of the 90s.”
Klay is a Marine Veteran, by the way.
He goes on to write that he was born in 1983, when “Thriller” was played and the video on MTV. He also writes that since then he’d gone to Iraq, come back and left the Corps before some of the kids (whose graves he was now walking past) had been old enough to sign up.
I started to think about my own decade. What was popular, what was not popular, and thought about what Klay wrote…”Kids born in the year of Madonna’s “Vogue,” James Cameron’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” Kriss Kross’ “Jump.”
I knew those songs and movies.
Yesterday I thought a lot about those who have served and lost their lives. In all honesty, I worried about how Sam would process the day and how I could help. I read articles and stories through tears. I beamed with pride at friends who completed the Murph workout, and I thought about families and friedns who may be suffering on Memorial Day.
Have we beocme accustomed to kids joining, some of them as young as 17, because they have grown up knowing we are a country at war?
Klay writes this of his sadness through Memorial Day weekend.
“We sent them there to fight a war on our behalf, whether we like to acknowledge that or not. They went, they fought, and they died.”
“So my sadness this weekend, the same sadness I felt walking through Arlington, is mixed with something else. I can’t simply reflect on the dead of my war. I can’t simply memorialize.”
And while we are involved in the long war, the longest war, going on now for nearly 16 years, the children of the 2000s will be, as Klay writes, the ones to sign up, the babies of “the new millenium, of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” and appropriately enough, Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator.”
Take a few moments to read Phil Klay’s article, courtesy of the New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/phil-klay-war-loss-unthinkable-youth-article-1.2652535