06 November 2009

Alice Embree : Here's to the Soldiers of Fort Hood

Jackie Thomas at Under the Hood Coffeehouse near Ft. Hood. Photo by Cynthia Thomas / The Rag Blog.

Thoughts of Charles Whitman on the tower,
And the soldiers who come back broken from war
Bring the troops home and take care of them.
By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / November 6, 2009

A call from Seattle alerted me to the shootings at Fort Hood. I called friends at Under the Hood Coffeehouse in Killeen and left messages. Then I drove by Monkeywrench Books to see if Bobby (an antiwar ex-Marine) knew about our mutual friends. Bobby was keeping up through Facebook.

Of course, Facebook. That’s how it is with this generation.

I headed home to cable television and Facebook, but all I could think of on the way to my house was Charles Whitman, another ex-Marine, on top of a tower shooting people under an August sun in Austin.

All afternoon, Victor Agosto posted news like staccato notes, “Post locked down.” “Thirteen dead.” On Facebook, I saw Michael’s message that he had not been shot.

I remembered how the phone lines got jammed when Whitman shot from the tower. It was 1966; the phones were landlines. Now Michael is texting from a bunker on a locked down base.

Victor finally sent a lengthy message about the site of the shootings: “SRP (Soldier Readiness Processing) is the pre-deployment process that involves medical, financial and legal paperwork/briefings. It takes all day to complete, sometimes several days. Soldiers must go through this process to deploy overseas. This is the process I was charged with refusing when I was court-martialed.”

So here’s to the soldiers who come back broken and find people to talk with. Here’s to the soldiers who come back angry and stand with red and black flags telling people why they’re angry about endless wars. Here’s to the soldiers who decide not to be deployed and go to jail instead. Here’s to Iraq Veterans Against the War and to Winter Soldier hearings where soldiers share their experiences. Here’s to Under the Hood Coffeehouse with its sign: “GI Voices; You Are Not Alone.” Here’s to the upcoming Warrior Writers event on Veterans Day where people can tell their stories.

And here’s to all the silent people who think their lives won’t be affected by these wars because they won’t be drafted and they don’t know anybody in the military. To them I can only say: Bring the troops home and take care of them.

[Alice Embree is an Austin activist and writer. She is a member of the board of the Ft. Hood Support Network and Under the Hood GI coffeehouse and was in Austin when Charles Whitman opened fire from atop the University of Texas Tower.]

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