Kareem Rashad, the Soldier

Somewhere Between War and Peace

Jose 2 Comments

Kareem Rashad, the Soldier

Kareem Rashad, the Soldier

Only a few years ago, I was so vehemently anti-war, I often got into verbal jousts with ex-US military men of all stripes, giving them side-eyes whenever they’d try to offer me positions in their corps. I remember when I was unemployed for a good 5 months, my cousin, an ex-Marine who just did a tour in Eastern Europe, told me of his fantastic travels and how great an experience it was for him, even went so far as to tell my parents that the Army wasn’t so bad and, because I was unemployed, I had no business rejecting his offer. To that end, I cringed, getting even more annoyed that my parents would even betray my ideals for this man’s “backwards” thinking.

But then I thought back to my walks past the veteran’s hospital, the listless men and women coming in and out of the building, who escaped their rooms just to get a little fresh air, leaving their hand out to every passerby, even if we were just Syracuse U students. My mind still trips out thinking of the vets I’ve seen all along the highway, lining up against NYC’s most prestigious buildings, sleeping on the benches of Union Square, and often rallying against the very war they may have been involved with when they were of age. My thoughts turn to the 1000s of war vets who attempt suicide everyday, maybe due to the atrocities they’ve witnessed first-hand, or how the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America consistently has ranked Democrats ahead of Republicans in veteran affairs.

And for every Muhammad Ali, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War on principle, there’s a Pat Tillman, who fought for the country he loved (even though he too thought the Iraq war was completely illegal and disagreed with it). It seems that even some of the more hawkish men and women in this country helped vote a relative peace-nick over a war veteran in war-time, one whose work focused more on domestic issues.

So while I’m still very anti-war, and anti-Bush-establishment, I still keep those soldiers all over the world in my thoughts, and wish them a safe return home. They too have families they need to feed. They too may find this war cumbersome and illegal. They too don’t think every detail about this war is being revealed to them. The only difference is that they’re fighting that war and we’re not. On this Veterans Day, a day dedicated to veterans AFTER the first World War and a day that the Congress itself instituted as a day of peace through good will and understanding, let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

Somewhere between war and peace, these soldiers of fortune lie.

jose, who still envisions disputes being settles by a series of games between administration, not with other people as the pawns …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonSomewhere Between War and Peace

Comments 2

  1. Carl

    If there’s one thing my father’s work with the Veterans Administration has taught me, it’s that supporting troops and pro-peace activism are certainly not mutually exclusive.

    The degree to which this country marginalizes its veterans is reprehensible. At best, it makes our administrations look gutless… at worst, it’s as if to say, “We believe so little in the duties we tasked you to perform, you can spend the remainder of your days as a second-class citizen.”

    I’m not saying, “I was just doing my job.” is an excuse. But as a nation, we need to stand behind the folks who fight the hard fight…

  2. bivey

    Agree completely. We had a maintenance worker in my school about 15 years ago – nicest guy in the world. He had to quit suddenly because his PTSD was acting up and he was afraid he’d have a flashback and accidentally hurt one of the kids. I’m a lifelong pacifist, but experiences like that have taught me that many veterans were animated by a sense of doing what they felt must be done to protect people they cared about, and that many of them have been permanently changed by what they went through.

    As a pacifist, I want to bring about peace and harmony in the world. One way to do that is to honor people like my school’s former employee by doing what I can to promote our country’s taking proper care of them in return for their service.

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