Just Because I Feel Like Being A Downer

Here are the best of the 9/11 five year tributes that I read yesterday (and I still don't know if it's scary that's only been five years since 9/11, or that it's been five whole years since 9/11... know what I mean?)

Ace Cowboy

Jason Mulgrew

Matt Ufford

Andrew Sullivan's alternate reality

And Pat Tillman's as told by Gary Smith

As for me, well I wrote about my experience once before... I think that will be enough... 9/11 wasn't so much of an apex of emotions for me as it was a beginning.

I remember the long night's the weeks after 9/11. I was in Pensacola, Fl in a Signals-Intel course while the twin towers still burned. I remember philosophizing around bottles of rum and history books late into the night with my fellow Marines. I remember crying myself to sleep every night for three weeks after 9/11.

And I remember when I just happened to "stumble across the news" on the morning of October 7th, 2001, right when we started unleashing fury on the Taliban... and I remember how my buddy Matt wondered how in the hell I knew to turn on CNN right at that moment, on a hung-over Sunday morning in downtown Memphis (I'll never tell). I drove back down through Mississippi that afternoon. I had to stop to throw up a few times, mainly because of all the booze from the night before, but also out of fear of what was to come.

Just a few months after that, I remember seeing one of my best friends lie in a hospital bed after he tried to take his own life while we were in Guantanamo Bay. Seeing him in that bed, fighting violently against doctors who were trying to help him.

I remember crying that night for the first time since the weeks right after 9/11.

Nine months after that, I was back in Peoria, Il for my grandmothers funeral. My fondest memory of that week was being out for lunch on that Saturday afternoon, as Notre Dames backup-QB, Pat Dillingham, audibled and connected with Arnez Battle for the game winning TD against Michigan State. The happiness I saw in my families faces that afternoon reminded how much something as trivial as sports can cheer us up when we're down. It was just what my family and I needed.

And I cried again.

Three months after that, I would being sitting on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by 1,000 men within 1,000 square feet, but never so alone.

Later, on land, I found myself late at night, lost in the slums of Kuwait City, too numb to feel fear, with nothing surrounding me but the thought that ghettos all look the same after midnight, whether they be in Kuwait or Chicago.

I no longer cried. And I no longer feared.

I remember sitting in front of the computer as my friends pulled north into An Nasiriyah. I heard the news that the bridge they were attempting to take was taking the heaviest casualties in a Marine Corps urban assault since Hue City. I was not scared, but I couldn't sleep. I smoked Camels and I stayed awake, chatting with them, cracking jokes and making sure everything was alright. They slept in a dump that night. I did not sleep at all.

A few weeks later, one of my buddy's moms had been kicked out of her apartment back home and was out on the streets and some bad shit was going down with his little sister, too. Despite my recommendations, he could not go home to help and/or save his family. Shit sucked.

By June of 2003, we were on our way back home. My body ached, my mind screamed, and my soul simply fucking hurt. Stopping in Cartegena, Spain defiantly did the trick to let off a little steam, but I never got fully recharged till I made it back to Peoria that 4th of July weekend.

When I first saw my niece, I cried again.

Like a fucking baby.

And of course, it all comes back to me every now and then. All of the crisp, tropical scents of Cuba reminding me of an afternoon on the Skiff with 6 friends and a bottle of Appleton Estate… and all of the pungent scents of heat, sand, and oil in Kuwait which wash together in the oneness and remind me of a friendly futbol match in the sand.

The cold, lonely nights on ship and the gentle tap of a 3am Persian Gulf rain storm. It comes back.

When I hear some of my boys are going back over, yet again, it comes back.

When I see a sky so blue that it hurts my eyes (I swear, the sky is no bluer anywhere than the Middle East), it comes back.

I wonder if this is how my grandfather feels when he feels something in the air that reminds him of the Pacific, ala 1945.

And I wonder if he'd be strong enough to tell anyone if it did.

Some nights, I lie in bed and I think about not only the innocent friends that I have lost, but my friends who have lost their innocence.

And sometimes I cry.

Someday, maybe I’ll write all about what happened on 9/11, but for now, for me, that story isn’t quite complete.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

"I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the state of Missouri."