Tag: heroes

Hero.

On Art and Culture December 21, 2013

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With the Daughters of the American Revolution, I handed out Christmas gifts to the war veterans at the Home for the Heroes in Los Angeles.  Most of these men had no living family or friends.  Many were unable to speak.  Even more were unable to move from their chairs or beds.  Some were very happy, and rejoiced in our good company, while the sadness of others could be deeply interpreted in the silence.  Antiseptic and incapacity filled the hallways with clinical doom, accommodations sparse and scarcely individual.  Outbursts, involuntary movements, and blank stares left a haunted me longing to feel more, to question, to comprehend.  Volunteers chirped: “Merry Christmas and thank you for your service!”  But I, a mere child on this day, struggled to muster cheer, questions swirling behind incredulous eyes that stung from tears I’d willed into remission.  Behind silent blank stares were powerful beings whose outer simply could not deliver the inner wellspring of life, history, and the extraordinary.  “Heroes.”  Not an unfamiliar term for me.  Two post-9/11 years of media relations lent various allusions and tributes to our heroes maybe 50,000 times in my workflow, yet this was another reality to examine.  Celebrating our heroes is the very least one could have done, or could ever do.  What celebration is there for the soul imprisoned by war evermore,  the life force caught in a vessel that cannot express its vitality beneath the casing?  Where is the victory in man without family, friends, or voice to share what little joy not eradicated by post traumatic stress, physical pain, or confinement.  This is the prize of a hero: a soul imprisoned in a lifeless body, a mind cursed with only the past to relate to… a hopeless state where present and future have no ground to lay a track of possibility and hope.  There is no greater Hell than one whose life is limited to the past, and yet, this is the lifetime sentence for a war hero.   “Thank you for your service…” to whom?  Who are they serving in a war that will never be over for them, because there is nowhere to go moving forward?  For what must nations fight?  How archaic is weaponry in the name of religion, commodities, and nationalistic pride?  For whom is this service rendered?