Going To Iraq - Not Me
My one-time fellow h.s. drumline member, college roommate, and now Marine Sgt. Ricardo Gonzalez, is off to Iraq. He called me very early this morning, because that's when they're up.
He sounded positive, and when I asked if he was ready, he said "Fuck Yea." We talked for a good while. Towards the end of our conversation, I asked him if he needed anything, and he just said "your support." He's always had that. He told me he knows I don't agree with the war. I told him that I support him and the guys I've met through him. I asked him about the pack he carries on his back and how much it weighed. He laughed when I told him I don't walk to work because my laptop is too heavy.
Rick told me his battalion is mostly made up of dudes from South Texas - the 1st Battalion 23rd Marines - he joked that they've changed the name of their "Charlie" company to "Carlos" company.
It's kind of sad to learn that your friend or family member is going to war and because I don't have either the time or the energy this morning to write more, I'm going to cut and paste a message I wrote early this month on Friendzy. My h.s. is organizing the reunion and our classmates decided to discuss the war. Here it goes:
For lack of better words and use of an unfortunate cliche, I guess we can "agree to disagree." I was Rick's best man at his wedding. I watched as he and his fellow Marines stood with pride as they wore their uniform, knowing that in a couple of months, they would be sent to Iraq. I gave a speech asking him and his friends to take care of each other. I watched as they clutched on to their girlfriends and wives as I spoke of the danger they might face and I watched their young faces full of courage and pride as they put on their uniforms. A couple of these guys didn't even speak English very well - they, like many of our classmates had led a life of struggle, worked hard to cross the border to attend school, so that they could later serve their country.
These are the guys that stand when a lady enters the room and the same guys who called me sir, simply because of my relationship with Rick.
And the entire time, they knew I didn't agree with what is going on overseas, but they knew I respected them for doing something I would never do. I don't agree with the war, I don't agree with the President, and I don't agree that our young men and woman have to come back to this country, and still sometimes be looked at as second class citizens because they don't speak english well, or because they don't have the same education some of us were able to achieve. I don't agree that some of our classmates who serve our country may come back and have a hard time finding a job, because they are "not qualified," even though they do something I can't and won't do.
Marissa, in my eyes you can say anything you want to say, you've earned it. You put in your time. The beauty of this country though is that everyone else can also say what they like.
Everyone knows that we are behind the people serving. I don't think that's ever been a question. As to the politics of the conflict - that's a different story.
In the valley, there's always been a strong feeling of patriotism. You don't have to look very far, look at our high school's namesake. I don't think it's a coincidence that Mexican-Americans earned the most purple hearts during WWII.
It is encouraging to see that we have differing opinions. I am glad to see that we can articulate our feelings.