“Outside, there are people walking around by the windows like it’s no big deal.
People, who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three of your platoon members died, people who have lived their entire lives at white.
In Wilmington, you don’t have a squad, you don’t have a battle buddy and you don’t even have a weapon. You startle ten times checking for it and it’s not there. You’re safe, so your alertness should be at white, but it’s not.
Instead you are stuck in an American Eagle Outfitters. Your wife gives you some clothes to try on and you walk into the tiny dressing room. You close the door, and you don’t want to open it again.”
Klay’s words hit my bile ducts with enough impact to make me wonder if there will be blood in my urine.
I know the seductive pulse of adrenaline as the heart rate goes up and those around me shift from possible threat to inevitable target. I feel the frustration of an existence merged beside people who don’t want, need or care to think of life beyond the tip of their nose.
War no longer requires National mobilization, nor conscription or any sense of a shift in the gears of policy. War is now a full-time job. The plan is in place before boots catch dirt and there will be no hero’s welcome for those who see the battlefield as a welcome escape from the unemployment line at home.
The enemy is a slogan. A mythological being immortalized in news reports, advertisements, video games and the latest smart phone app. War is an industry, the active tentacle of a techno-armament complex so ingrained into the roots of American culture it is the prophesized invisible hand … It’s sold using the same methods as pork bellies, politicians and soap.
At the cessation of the First World War, it was said there were two-types of Britons: Those who fought and those who stayed home and did their best to ignore the atrocities perpetrated in their National interest. The hard truth is not much has changed. Those who went, return to be either forgotten or forced to sanitize the experience for a population distracted with selfies, reality television and cult of personality news.
“ ‘Yeah’ he said softly, ‘yeah it’s crazy.’ I could tell he was searching for the right words to say. ‘Look, I’m going to tell you something.’
‘Okay’ I said.
‘I respect what you’ve been through,’ he said.
I took a sip of my beer. ‘I don’t want you to respect what I’ve been through,’ I said.
That confused him. ‘What do you want?’
I didn’t know. We sat and drank beer for a bit.
‘I want you to be disgusted,’ I said.
‘Okay,’ he said.
‘And,’ I said, ‘you didn’t know that kid. So don’t pretend like you care. Everybody wants to feel like they are some caring person.’”
Redeployment examines the war and homecoming from the eyes of officers, soldiers, morgue detail specialists and civilian development workers. Each locked in a vain attempt to reconnect to the banalities of a society their sacrifice meant to preserve.
At home, those who went no longer fit into the safe image presented by public relations or the delusions of civilians. They are the untouchables … those in commune with the dead. They yearn to return to the truth of war. The only place each day still makes sense.