Our numbers were so big we covered the entire width of the Avenue. When the beginning of the march reached Times Square, there were still people in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. For those of you who know New York, you know how many people that was.
We were made up of Indians, Irish, Italians, Jews, Greeks, Africans, Puerto Ricans, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, English, Dutch, Tibetans and every other Nation imaginable that day. We marched to the beat of drums, we marched to the chants of thousands and we marched to the silence of our shoes upon the pavement. We held signs, we held hands and we held our heads high. We had survived the false-election of a President, we had survived 9/11 and we knew we were strong enough to survive this. Sadly, what we didn’t know, is that so many others would not survive.
From that day forward we watched Baghdad fall, we watched President Bush stand on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit and we watched as millions of Americans cheered when Saddam was hung by the neck until dead. Then, we watched as hundreds of American deaths turned to thousands, as thousands of innocent Iraq deaths turned to hundreds of thousands and we watched as not one person, not one, was able to find the WMDs we were told were there.
Some scream it was all okay because Saddam had killed his own people, but they seem to not be concerned with the fact that he did that many years before, and oddly no one in America cared until we were told to care. Some scream how can we denounce killing a man who was a threat to the world, especially after what happened on that day on 9/11, but if we’re going to say it’s okay to start killing world leaders because they pose a danger to others, we would see the world targeting an American President every four years. Some scream who cares, if you aren’t for us you’re against us – those people aren’t even worth wasting our time on. Ignorance is not Patriotism.
Ten years later we have more soldiers dying from suicide than in combat, we have 1/3rd of our female soldiers being raped by their fellow soldiers and we have massive amounts of veterans who are suffering from PTSD, unemployment, homelessness and a million other issues…and we still can’t figure out how to give them a goddamn Welcome Home Parade.
This country, my country, doesn’t piss me off because we make stupid mistakes like going into a war based on lies…it pisses me off because every fucking mistake after that mistake, has been completely avoidable – and yet, here we are, still trying to put out a grease fire with water.
We should be able to do better. But we can’t seem to be able to get there. And now thousands of Americans are dead and up to a million innocent civilians are dead. Hundreds of thousands of families are forever destroyed. Tens of thousands of men and women are back home, and they’re not okay and I don’t know if they will ever be okay. So Crappy Anniversary to the Iraq War, the biggest mirror a nation has ever built, to show itself that it really didn’t learn anything from the mistakes of its past.
Take a good, long look.
Vince is the author of Einstein’s Shutter, among other works.