‘Why?’ asks a small child when she looks to her mother holding up a small stump of an arm. Not understanding why. Her mother simply stares vacantly as she does not understand what has happened to her children. She has lost so many. She is a Lady in a village miles from what we know as familiar territory. ‘Why?’ asks a little girl of her father as she watches him yet again suffer through a spell that she does not understand. With small hands she reaches out to comfort him and does not understand. Her father does not really know. He has an idea but feels hopeless. Two victims among thousands upon thousands that are the remnants of war. War based on what? All we hear are the drums of war and watch as our strong and young stand up to be counted among those that feel it is their duty to stand with their country. To protect it in times of war. They have these gossamer dreams of glory and perhaps anger unfounded towards a people they do not even know. Duty, Honor, Valor, Strength, Patriot we hear. Pounding in our ears again and again until it becomes the silent diatribe of a people that do not know why only that it is a threat. They look upon their loved ones. They look upon their young wife carrying their baby and smile and say ‘I have to, I will come home and it will be ok’ She doubts but loves him enough to know that he feels he is doing the right thing. Across the ocean in an unknown country a father hears the drums of war and finds that he may help these foreigners to win against an unknown enemy. So he goes to help. He may be a translator, he may be a friend, his place is not determined yet.
The war rages and the pundits speak of these words again Duty, Honor, Valor, Strength, Patriot and we hear it but our belief begins to waver. What do we truly know? We hear of defeats. On the television, our god, we see boxes filled with the remains of the honorable dead. We mourn. The mothers cries can be heard through the hearts of any that hear it. She cries out ‘WHY?’ in an anguished wail. WHY? She only knows that he son is dead. Men walk up to a door and they knock with trepidation and when the door opens and he speaks..the bring of death sometimes he must catch those he speaks to. For they cannot stand anymore hearing news of a loved one dead. Their eyes fill with tears and they know only sadness. Some come home and they are broken men. They miss limbs and sanity. Their eyes are filled with ghosts of atrocities and a chemical unknown to them grows inside of them as they put their arms blankly around their loved ones. Sometimes they are whole and just haunted in their minds and they make love to their wives and girlfriends. Not knowing, not told, not warned of the time bomb of illnesses awaiting their progeny. In the small villages the men and women return home. Some broken like ours and their mothers hold them and weep for their injuries. Sometimes the wails wake you up in the morning as you see the bodies of their loved ones. But it is nothing compared to the wails to be heard at the birth of their children. This keening sadness and hands raised to the sky begging.. ‘WHY ?!’ They hang their heads and weep. Thank you Agent Orange. Thank you Monsanto. Thank you Pundits in a foreign land.
The pundits do little or nothing for the troops when they come home. Perhaps a photo op for the paper where the troops are abused. Because nobody understands. They know it is wrong. They know that it should not have happened. These men are broken and forgotten. But the next generation is simply forgotten..their children are born with afflictions sometimes seen. Sometimes not seen. The drums of war are colored orange and gleam to the heights of the trees whom they defoliated to show an enemy that was not there, not really. Yes this gleaming product in a can unmarked and used by unsuspecting troops and native people alike. Why? Why? WHY ! This is the question that forms in the minds.Upon the tongues of those now suffering they ask one question.. ‘Why?’ The answer oh it is nothing. Oh here take another pill. Oh wait no health insurance. Well then give me money. Give me money so I may not heal but will support the symptoms and never free you from this disease.. oh no wait it is all in your mind. Smile for the camera Mr President as he shakes your hand and calls you a hero. While inside you feel your whole world crumbling around you like dust sifting between your fingers as you know. The eyes of those children left behind linger in your mind and here you are a hero? Silently the chemical company stands behind in the shadows..smiling.
Why? Because they are inhumane and do not care. Why? Because of money. Why? Because they hope to silence the voices. I say that why are they allowed to profit off of the deaths of so many? I say why are they not being held accountable and being held up to standards of humanity? I say why do we not shine a light into the shadows where they like to hide? Why not show them the destruction they left in their wake grabbing for money money money money…all paper burning to ashes just like their empty words filling the mouths of those that still suffer the indignities of their pain every single day. Why? Because we are human beings. Why? Because we will stand up for what is right. Why? Because we are not invisible. Why? Because we will not be ignored.
© Quiescent Aureate Serpent 2012
Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance Member