It's time for another one of those posts. Yep, the kind of post that gets nutjobs at places like Vanity Fair all up in a tizzy. Maybe I'm pushing too far with this one- I'm writing about something that I feel many of you can never understand.
I left the billets early tonight for the mission. I racked my machine gun in the cradle, and sat on top of the truck. I plugged in my iPod, took a sip of coffee, and sat back to watch the sunset. Somehow, the setting sun always seems to look better here than at home; the sunsets are the one beautiful thing about this place. I watch as the dying sun slowly sinks, its rays falling across sand, mud, guard towers, satellite dishes, and all the other things that have come to mean home for a time. The sky is brilliant with golds and crimsons- here and there a tendril of flame licks up a wisp of cloud.
Some say the world will end in fire/Some say in ice/From what I've tasted of desire/I hold with those who favor fire
The sun has set, and Venus shines low in the sky in poor reflection. The others are starting to straggle out to the vehicles. It's time to prep for the mission. Tonight, we're going back up into the general area where we lost three of ours so shortly ago- not the same road- and this is the first time we've been back that way. I look around at my friends and try to read their faces. They could be scared, and most of us are, a little. They could be numb- just doing their job. Again, most of us are, a little. However, I think that most of us are out for blood. It might sound horrible, inhuman, even medieval, but the fact of the matter is that someone out there killed friends of ours, and we're going back into a place where we just might get the guy that did it. We'll never know if it was him, of course, but there's always the chance that we'll even the scales unknowingly.
Killing is not natural to sane people, no matter how often it has happened over eons. There are many ways that you can reconcile yourself in some way to the idea of killing another human. You can think of it as duty- you have a job, and that job requires violence. You can hate- the easiest of all excuses, and the most exhausting. You can look at it as simple survival- if you don't kill him, then he'll kill you. However you justify it, you are still in a war, and people will still die. It wears on everyone- the American deaths, the "collateral damage" we inflict on people in the wrong place at the wrong time, the innocents killed when some faceless murderer blows himself up in a crowd. Yes, even the enemy dead take their toll.
The headphones sing-
If I ever leave this world alive/I'll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight/Wherever I am you'll always be/More than just a memory/If I ever leave this world alive
One more mission.
One more chance to find a bomb.
One more chance to save a life.
One more chance to take one.
One more chance to die.