August 7, 2008

I'm Not Against the Soldier

In order to go greener and save gas I decided to ride the bus downtown to the theatre as often as possible. There is a bus line that stops right in front of the station, right in front of the theatre, and right in front of my apartment. All on the same line! With that luxury, driving down there without a valid reason is stupid and kind of irresponsible. Yesterday was my first bus ride and it was easy-peasy. In my opinion the bus stops way too often- once it was twice within 50 feet. But otherwise grrrrreat!

While I was waiting for the ride home a man approached me. He was holding out a military ID and told me that he was an Iraqi vet who "was embarrassing himself asking for bus fare." I'm not comfortable giving money to people I don't know so I told him I only had my bus fare on me. But after I lied I started to feel terrible. That morning I heard an interview with an Iraqi veteran who was talking about his homelessness when he came home. Combine that with what happened and I really felt like a jerk.

My father was a career Air Force man and my mother's boyfriend served two tours in Vietnam and does extensive work with veterans. I know what our veterans face. My mother's boyfriend saves soap, shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries that hotels give away so he can give them to veteran's homes. Bush's government can't even buy soap for the people who risk their LIVES for a war that he pulled out of his ass. Don't even get me started on their health care and psychological services.

It infuriates me and it breaks my heart. No matter why the servicemen and women joined, they served their country and faced atrocities I can't imagine. They gave something of themselves that I'm not brave enough to give of myself. And the country they served can't bother to take care of them when they come home. If they come home. Bullshit.

The man came back around the corner and I saw him ask a limo driver for some cash. I chased him down and asked him where he needed to go. He told me the post in Watertown and he was only $13 short. I gave him some money. Earlier that day I found unexpected cash in my pocket and made some change with it for bus fare. I figured maybe the money wasn't really meant for me. I gave him what I didn't need for the bus. He asked me for my address to pay me back and I told him to just take it, that my father served. He asked me if my dad served in Watertown and we shared a chuckle about who would ever want to serve up there. He thanked my dad for his service and I thanked him for his.

He could have been a scam artist but I'm asked for money all the time where I work and the scam artists in Albany certainly aren't that creative. There are other reasons to believe him besides his panicked sincerity- the bus depot was just down the street and Albany is a big stop going anywhere in the state. I really think he just fell on some hard times.

I joke around with my dad all the time about how I'm a pinko. But I cry during the national anthem. I cry when I think about the dreams that come true when people first arrive here. I cry when I hear Neil Diamond sing "Coming to America." But I love an America that doesn't exist. The America I believe in stands for beauty, strength and acceptance. Some argue that America never existed. I guess I believe in my imagination. But that man doesn't believe in his imagination. He believed in this country enough to serve it. And he should be thanked for that. Not on the street by a girl with crazy hair, but properly.

1 comment:

Kisa said...

So I'm catching up on your blog (I'm a crap friend, I know, but I just found the huge piece of paper with the blog name written on it).

I'm very impressed with all that I've read so far, but this one . . . wow. Wow . . .

keep it up!