On Marines, Birthdays, and Leaving the Battlefield Behind

For The Faster Times:

It is still Veteran’s Day in parts of the United States as I write this. On the western coast, packs of roving Nam vets in black leather jackets who never quite figured out how to slip back into civilian life are straddling their motorcycles with their hips and a bottle of Jack with their mouths and thinking about the ones who didn’t make it here. On the eastern coast old men who still remember the delirious bloodthirsty madness of Normandy have long since gone to bed in their nursing homes that smell of rancid flowers and talcum powder. In the south, young buzzcut men back early from Iraq are being stood so many rounds at the bar they can barely stand and are trying to figure out if they are too drunk to get laid.

During the day there was remembrance, and in the evening we forget. Not a casual forgetting where we let it slip from our mind while we try to remember whether we need to pay the newspaper boy tomorrow. An intentional forgetting: alcohol, sleep, drugs, meditation, whatever it takes to grip our mind by the shirt collar and say: yes, it happened, move on.

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