The following passage is an abbreviation of the true story I had the privilege of hearing in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, over tofu curry at 3 AM, after the most fun bonfire party I'd ever attended.
Disclaimer: I am not arguing politics, and I understand that the account of one man does not reflect the morals/attitude of the entire military. I am merely telling the story of a friend, which moved me. Thank you for understanding.
Content Warning: Depression, Death, Suicide
“In the Marines, they trained us primarily to be killers. And at 18, you know, it was just like a video game. How many can we get today? We didn't think about it as taking lives. We didn’t really think about it at all. We were just doing our jobs.
But the more time I spent in war zones, the more mothers I saw out there cooking, men hanging out, drinking, playing cards, and all the kids running up to us, laughing... the more it reminded me of the hood! These are people like us. Just poor people living their lives.
My parents and grandparents never had money. You could say they grew up in the ghetto. No jobs available, and it wasn't common for the men around me to go to college. So it made sense to join the military.
Until one day, on those streets of Iraq, I watched my troop gun-down a whole car of innocent people.
We had waved at them to ‘stop’ or I guess, ‘halt’, but they really thought we were just waving ‘hello’. They continued driving, and the next second, they were all dead. For nothing.
That day got me fucked up.
The next time we were under fire, I took off all my protective gear; my helmet, everything, and I screamed 'kill me'!
I didn't care. I didn’t want to do it anymore. At least then, I figured, they'd send my family some money.
Here I am, anyway.
I get disability checks now, so that’s nice.
But I think maybe that’s the problem with some police. A lot of them are ex-military or had similar training. Or they were at least inspired by the same shit.
They treat the hood like a war zone. They don't see a difference.
Maybe they just think it's like a video game.
I don't know.
All I know is kids out here don't know what they're in for. Nobody prepares us for real life. But then we're suddenly faced with life-or-death and we just have to deal with it.
We should fix that."
© 2017 JULIET FESSEL ALL RIGHTS RESERVED