Monday, March 1, 2010
One Last Thing. (Brainwash 5)
Generations before mine can tell you exactly where they were when JFK was shot. It was a moment in history that people just don't forget. I guess I can tell you where I was. I was hanging out in my mom's ovaries. Not even a thought. So see everyone can tell you where they were on that day.
JFK and Jackie arriving in Dallas.
Another date that everyone, including my generation and younger, can tell you where they were on is September 11, 2001. Its the new Kennedy Assassination. You just mention it and people will launch into their stories of where, and how they felt that day.
This old ad from the 70's struck a chord
I graduated basic training on October 11, 2001. I was a little over half way through when 9/11 happened.
That day we were doing yard work at an administration building. Just busy work and manual labor. Always had to keep us moving. I heard some of the other soldiers say they'd heard that a car blew up in front of the White House. That's how the news trickled down, I guess. We weren't allowed access to television and we were only allowed to read the Sunday newspaper and had to throw it away before Monday. So we were in a pretty thick bubble by this point. Our news came from eavesdropping and overhearing things. (I was also in when Aaliyah died and we didn't find out for a week, and it had to be confirmed by a drill sergeant) I didn't pay much attention already use to the rumor mill and how it got out of hand. Also I was too busy pretending to work, but really just hanging out in the sun. It was a beautiful day on Fort Jackson. When the day ended they started taking us back to the barracks in small groups. I was part of the last group to go back. The drill sergeant gathered us around and said that even though he was told not to tell us that he felt like we deserved to know. He let us know that two planes had flown into the World Trade Center, and another into the pentagon. I don't think he was aware of flight 93. To be honest I didn't actually know what the WTC was, but I understood that this was serious. I look back and realize how strange it was that it happened so early in the morning but we didn't find our until the afternoon. The country was going crazy and we had no clue at all.
Fort Jackson is a very big and busy base. Many people work and live on it. But on our way back to the barracks it was empty. It was 5 o clock, rush hour and everything was eerily quiet. Just the sound of the Humvee. At every stop sign an armed soldier would check the drivers id and check on us in the back. It was pretty unerving. That night at dinner I passed by the room where the drill sergeants ate and had a TV. All I saw before being moved forward was a lot of smoke and blue sky on the news. Really, until a year later on the one year anniversary that's all I really saw. I watched the news programs on that day obsessively, trying to get rid of the feeling that I had missed something a year earlier.
People would always ask me if I knew what was going on, when I would call home. I assured them that I probably knew less then they did. They wanted us in the bubble. And after living on numerous Army bases and being married to a soldier as well, that doesn't change when you get out of Basic. I'll always feel like I didn't really experience 9/11 with other Americans. I couldn't even call my family for a couple of days. They lived in Texas so I knew they were okay, but I wanted to talk to them as a touchstone, to ground myself.
Our drill sergeant flat out told us we were going to war. This caused some of my fellow soldiers to decide they didn't want to be soldiers anymore. Some pretended to be crazy, threatening suicide or hearing voices. One girl when the drill sergeants would tell her to "beat her face" (a meaner way of telling you to do push ups) she would get on the concrete and literally start beating her face against the ground. I prayed they would get her out before we did weapons training! Another one said he was Buddhist and didn't believe in war. ummmm...what exactly did you think the army did? Dumbass. When you wanted out they called it "Failure to Adapt" Its not honorable or dishonorable. Its just a discharge. But it does not look good on a resume. And the army of course drags their feet doing the paperwork to get you out. You go to another barracks that is full of just people trying to get out. And you wait. Some of the people who were trying to get out had to serve us lunch on our graduation day. It just didn't make sense to me. Its not like I wanted to go to war, far from it. But you'd gone through so much bullshit and the hard stuff was over, you were just going to quit and still not get to go home for months? Who am I to judge? But I do anyway.
I was lucky and never got called up to go. My ex-husband got sent to Kuwait, and met a girl there (another soldier, not a Kuwaiti;) and told me he wanted a divorce through instant message. But that's a whole different story.
Thanks for indulging me in my little trip. It was kind of cathartic to write it out. So thanks for reading.
picture by Banksy