Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Contributed by fellow IVAW member Clifton Hicks

When you leave for Iraq they put you in a great long file stretching all the way from the terminal to the door of the airplane which will ferry you to the battlefield. The uniforms are new, the colors bright and un-faded, un-blemished by the howling dust, un-spattered by the midnight oil, yet to be torn by the razor wire, yet un-christened by the ignorant sweat and the innocent blood.

As you trudge on, ever forward toward the stair case and the cockpit, you chance to look around at your surroundings. Not much to see really, the back of a helmet before you, a blank stare behind, tarmac beneath your boots and flood lights to blind your eyes. But do look around, and remember what you see, for everything you witness will surely be for the last time. Once you step onto that plane you leave in your footprints forever your entire life and the world as you once knew it, for the person who goes to Iraq can never be the person who returns.

By now the uniforms are threadbare. Tattered pockets flicker in the breeze, back and shoulders bleached white from the glaring rays, caked and coated in a year of rusty dust, scarred fingers peering through chewed up splitting gloves, cigarette holes smoldering on the collar, smears of black and drops of red on the boots. The skin of the face, neck, and hands appear dry, dark, leathery; the eyes dwell in shadows, the feet drag forward.

As one appears on the outside, so too has one become on the inside; faded and worn, shredded and stretched, nearly to the limit, forever torn apart. Never again will you gaze upon what once was, never again will you smell the same rain or feel the same breeze. Still the boots tramp on, forever forward, on to the next slaughter.