It is 5:12 A.M. Just three minutes ago, I said good-bye to a young friend--a family member, really--who's leaving in a couple of hours on an 18-month mission, ostensibly in Egypt.
When I met him, he was a high-school orphan living with two sisters and a brother under the roof of a grandmother so vile beating her with 1-iron would start to make Me happy. Over the years, My sister and I have been peppered with questions--hundreds and hundreds of questions. We have seen his generosity and his fears. We have worried and celebrated with him. And now he's on his way to serve in a theater of war for no decent reason.
Yes, Egypt is not engaged in war. But it seems evident that what was born of lies and hubris, fed by feeble-minded ego and greed and bolstered by the kind of goose-stepping subservience one should only see in very bad movies, that mutant fiasco We call the Iraqui War, will be his next destination. Why shouldn't it be, for nothing salvages a stupid pack of lies like slathering blood all over the mess. If nothing else, it confuses the issue.
Or maybe My young friend will end up across the DMZ between the Koreas, the Cowering Economic Tiger of the South and the Monomaniacal Rabid Rat of the North. Why not there, where the murderous moron in the Oval Office continues to defy centuries of diplomatic wisdom and refuses to negotiate with a sworn enemy? Nothing like pretending that other players--some of dubious allegiance--will always fight and defend Our interests just as much as We would. And sting rays don't sting, crikey.
My friend is Hispanic. And Black. And in the Chemical Corps. What yellow canaries were to the coal mines, so are these black and brown and white canaries to ravaged oil fields: human litmus paper dropped into God-knows-what to see what emerges. To defend Us, that's admirable: to be pawns in a denial of reality is criminal.
My friend, Alfredo Pabón, recently got to know his father, meet his grandfather, bond with his great-grandmother (a spry 90-year-old) and discover--for the first time--what family is. Alfredo has made his way through late adolescence and early adulthood practically alone, and in his fervent desire to become a Health Teacher, he chose the Army to secure what he felt was out of reach. Now that he's no longer alone (for he never really was but blood is always thicker than friendship) now that he has a family and can begin building what most of Us have from birth, now he must leave.
He made his choice and he will do his duty. Unlike his Commander-in-Chief, who shirked duty, spat on his oath and hornswoggled out like a coward, Alfredo will face this challenge squarely. As do so many others, even in this travesty of subhuman political chicanery.
My last words to Alfredo--for now--were "Take care" and "Be strong." I hope they will be enough.
The Jenius Has Spoken.