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I've been a delivery driver for about a year now. I go to people's homes and meet a lot of folk I wouldn't otherwise have the pleasure of speaking with. And sometimes I see things that shock you a little. Some rather young handicapped men. Men in wheelchairs, some with hooks for arms. You see them sometimes in the grocery store or in line at the bank. A few weeks back I was running out to Reflection Dr. and knocked on the door until the young men answered the door. They took a while; I didn't know why. One in crutches, the other at the back of the room watching tv in his wheelchair. Boys, basically. 20 at most. Should be clubbing, philandering, all that fun stuff. But this kid had titanium for legs, and was bandaged up where the flesh met the prosthetic. I try not to look shocked as best as anyone can ... got wide eyed, polite, smiled, made my run and went about business as usual. Good tipper, too. And the other fella out here in T-town (it's all military housing), a family man. About my age or older, he always calls his dog off when he answers the door. Good chap. It's afterwards that I get to thinking about the fucked up situation. It breaks my fucking heart. I mean it's just as sad as if they lost legs and arms to diabetes or cancer or a car crash. But there are so many of these young people coming back dismembered. Some don't come back at all. And I don't get why. I don't even try to understand why. It's totally their lives and their choice they made, for their country. They must have loved it enough to sacrifice limbs and lives. I wouldn't, for this nation, but they would. I don't try to fathom the mind of a warrior or a soldier. They chose war and they got the brunt end of it. I know that war still carries on when in the parking lot of Reflection, I always see that black Toyota in the Handicapped parking with decals all over the back window .. "Fuck Saddam", "Fuck Osama", USMC.

I guess it's their deal and their lives and I have my own. I'm not one of these people who wears an American flag jumpsuit and worships the ground the military walks on at baseball games. Hell, I stopped putting my hand over my heart during the National Anthem years ago. Military personnel have their job, that they willingly chose, and it adds nothing more or less to the American landscape than any other job. The florist, the revenuer, the doctor and lawyer are all just as important in building up our communities as the soldier is in defending it, as keepers of the peace abroad. As the policeman, keepers of the peace domestically, who people despise .. not knowing a lot of police officers were former military - so you're praising them one year and calling them pigs the next. I really can't stand when the country heralds the military above all other walks of life. That kind of stupidity, I expect from Americans. I just see them as my brothers and sisters, as fathers and mothers. This is the way it's always been, since men were limping back home after turning back the Redcoats, and walking back in Confederate outfits, and beating back the Huns, twice. "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) is one of the finest films I've ever seen about this subject .. what happens after war. Maybe one of the best anti-war movies out there.

My point is, I'm still torn. I feel sorry for these people who have to carry on with their lives, missing limbs because of a choice they made in their youth. But I also don't want to pity these people; I want them to feel fully capable, and not different in any way, almost totally ignoring it .. just a regular brother or sister. I don't know what to feel. But it breaks my fucking heart. Lt. Dan was just a character portrayed by fully-functioning actor Gary Sinise. These are real people. The best I can do is follow in the words of Christ ... LOVE


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