Nova Scotia Skiff

Moment of Silence

Nova Scotia Skiff
Moored skiff in a cove near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1990.

I came across a post by Thomas of Pacific Tides about the state of the world today. While there have been thousands of posts concerning the war and the dying, something about Thomas’ post left me numb and so grieved that I almost broke down weeping. He sums up in such succinct and simple words the stupidity, futility, and sorrow of all that is going on that I couldn’t help but feel the weight of the last two years bearing down upon me. Thomas links to the Washington Post’s photo catalogue of American soldiers who have so far died in the ongoing war (what crassness to announce the war is over!). I took some time to gaze at a few close-ups of those mostly young faces and for many moments I felt lost and overwhelmed. Looking at them up close, with their smiles or brave seriousness, all the possibilities and reasons for being alive swept through my heart. They will never come back. They will never again feel the kisses of their loved ones. They will never more know the wind on their faces or the taste of a peach. They will never more hear their mother or father laugh, never sing a song or lie on a beach watching the stars. And what for? What for? There were Bush and Blair laughing ( laughing! ) while soldiers and civilians are dying. What the ……. for?

I put on David Wilcox’s Frozen In the Snow to try and ease the pain in my heart. Like waves on a quiet shore, the song rolling back over and over again, the sad words repeating. The memories of those I have never known bobbing like flowers in the wind. A lullaby to the dying and the dead.

I have always been fundamentally against militaries of any sort, anywhere. They represent to me the worst of human endeavors and the epitome of failed communication and thoughtlessness. People talk of violence and injustice toward women, but why do they turn away from the violence and injustice toward (mostly) young men? Why is it all right that young men are recruited, taught how to murder, and then sent out to be anonymously slaughtered? If, in the course of the nightmare, they come to feel that they must take their lives into their own hands and attempt to leave, they are chastised for being “cowards” and “dishonorable”. The law is set up to punish them, often with death. What is the difference from slavery? Always there is talk of “patriotism” and “for the homeland”, accompanied by strong emotions about who they are and what they are defending. And when they come home in body bags empty phrases repeated without any way to truly compensate for the loss. Mothers nodding to themselves that their sons died valorous in battle. Valorous.

And what of the “Enemy”? The countless thousands, who are painted as non-entities, mere shadows to release your weapons at. Where are the photo galleries of the Iraqis murdered? Will anyone ever take a moment for them? Give them faces? Comfort their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters?

They will never come back. Let us take a moment to let that sink in.

  1. Thomas Sturm


    I’m sorry if my post came out the way it is… I felt exactly like you when I saw the gallery of soldiers on the Washington Post web site. And I just went to my site and wrote it all out in one conscious stream, no editing, just typing, submitting and sitting back.

    I’ve made a conscious effort to not write too much about the current US government and its policies, partly because there are already many sites that do a pretty good job of disassembling the mechanics behind the current White House, and partly also because I’m fully dependent on the goodwill of this very administration in renewing my work visa every few years… and if you think that is paranoid, well, I’m not so sure anymore.

    So yes, this post came as a bit of a surprise for me too…

    I think what made me react was the faces of these soldiers. So young. When I was their age I had to go to the German Airforce during the cold war (every young man gets drafted in Germany) and I can’t describe in words how bad I felt about being forced into this insanity.

    But it gave me a hint of what it must be like to be sent to Iraq and to slowly realize that instead of upholding the US constitution and protecting the US population you are suddenly part of an unjust and illegal occupation force, misused by politicians in far-away Washington who obviously don’t give a damn about your life.

    Oh well… the unfliching optimist deep inside me is hoping that this is just one last uprising of the cave men, that once we get rid of this bunch the world will move on and do that whole enlightened 21st-century-thing that we were promised in the brochure. :-)