Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XXIX

Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

Through the Darkest of Nights

Long Time Passing

    Intense heat hit us when we got off the shuttle bus, Texas in August is even more of a blast furnace than D.C. is in August.  But even more than the heat, we feel the energy here, the energy of Americans determined to stand up to George Walker Bush and his criminal administration.  The sign that greets newly arrived people reflects that determination: Welcome to Camp Casey, the Beginning of the End of the War.

    As we walked through the camp, we met Americans who understand what needs to be done to end that war, we talked to them, we talked to Cindy, who told us this all began a few weeks ago when she was sitting at home, watching TV, and saw a news bulletin reporting that 14 Marines from Ohio had been killed in a bombing in Iraq.  It broke her heart that other mothers would have to go through what she’s been going through ever since her son Casey was killed, it was sickening to watch Bush say that the families of those fallen soldiers could rest assured that their loved ones died for “a noble cause.”

   “I want to ask the president, why did he kill my son?” she told us.  “He said my son died in a noble cause, and I want to ask him what that noble cause is.  I want him to honor my son by bringing the troops home immediately.”

    I saw the grief in her eyes, but I also saw courage, more courage than any posturing politician in this dying democracy will ever have.  Cindy came here to confront George Walker Bush, she came here for the sake of her fallen son, for the sake of all of America’s sons, to take a stand for them, to take a stand for peace, to take a stand because no one else will.      

    Her son was betrayed by Bush, he was betrayed by the Congress of this country, he was betrayed by cowards in newsrooms across America who report what the government tells them to report, and call it journalism.  Every soldier in Iraq is being betrayed, most Americans realize that by now, but they’re silent, they’re afraid to speak out, afraid to tell the truth, afraid of the thugs who hijacked their government and are beating them into submission with it.  

    But no one is afraid here, no one is silent here.  Everyone we’ve talked to, from the people who’ve been here since the beginning and camped with Cindy in a ditch beside a single-lane Texas road, to those who’ve arrived since Camp Casey was set up have all said the same thing, they feel they have to be here.  To take a stand.   For peace. For decency.  For every American too afraid to take stand.  

   Joan Baez, a Seeker of Peace with the heart of a lion and the voice of an angel, has come to Camp Casey to take a stand with us.  As the sun sets on our first night here, as fading sunlight glistens off the white crosses beside Prairie Chapel Road, she’s playing her guitar and singing . . .  

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.  Long time ago . . .

    Shannon and I listened as we walked among the white crosses next to Prairie Chapel Road.  Flowers have been placed beside many of them, daisies, roses, wildflowers from the Texas prairie.  White crosses stand in rows, one for each of the young Americans killed in Bush’s war, a white cross for each of them and their families, who answered a knock on their door to find men in uniform standing there, sent by the Pentagon to tell them their son had been killed, their daughter had been killed, their father or mother, husband or wife had been killed in Bush’s war for oil.  

    Cindy Sheehan has come here to knock on Bush’s door.  But he won’t answer that knock, he won’t come to his door.  He’s on vacation.  He’s rewarding himself for all the hard warmongering work he’s done by taking another vacation, a five-week vacation this time.  He’s busy vacationing, so he has no time to explain what that noble cause is he’s so proud of, he has no time for Casey Sheehan’s mother, no time to explain why he sent Casey off to fight in what he claims is a crucial war between civilization and the evildoers, no time to explain why he keeps sending other people’s children off to fight and die, but won’t send his daughters.  

   So last Saturday he sent Joe Hagin, his deputy chief of staff, and Stephen Hadley, his national security adviser, to lie about all that to Cindy.  The next day, Larry Mattlage, whose land borders Camp Casey, fired a double-barreled shotgun salute in honor of Bush and his fascist liars, and that night another admirer of fascism drove his pickup truck over the hundreds of white crosses bearing the names of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

Where have all the young girls gone?  Long time passing.  Long time ago . . .

    We listened to the young girl who became a folksinger, to a Seeker of Peace, a voice for the poor and the powerless.  For a long time passing, she’s been the heart and soul of the peace movement, the conscience of America, the voice of truth.  She still has the soul of a young girl, she still has the beautiful eyes that looked out upon the flower children at Woodstock, she still has the moral courage that inspired millions of Americans to speak out against the war in Vietnam, the moral courage that’s needed so desperately in this fifth year of Bush’s criminal presidency.  She’s asking America the same question she asked when the war in Vietnam was raging and the bombs were falling and the politicians were lying and the innocent were dying . . .  

Where have all the young men gone?

    The answer is different this time, but the consequences are the same. They’ve gone to Baghdad, to Fallujah, to Najaf and Ramallah and Mosul, to kill and be killed in the land where civilization began, long time passing, long time ago.  They’ve been sent to fight a war for oil, to kill and be killed for the black blood that flows through the veins of the global economy, the black blood that burns every day and night in a billion engines on a billion streets in every country in this polluted world.  They’ve been sent to kill and be killed for that black blood that burns and never stops burning, that never stops polluting the air we breathe, that never stops enriching the wealthy and powerful who lie and exploit and profit from the killing.  That’s where America’s young men have gone.    

Where have all the soldiers gone?  Long time passing.  Long time ago . . .
 

    They’ve gone where they’ve always gone.  To fight where the wealthy and powerful send them to fight, to spill their blood as the blood of soldiers has been spilled for thousands of years, on the plain of Kadesh, at the gates of Troy, in the shadow of the walls of Carthage, beneath the minarets of Jerusalem, in the mud of Agincourt, on the field of Waterloo, in the trenches along the Somme, in the ruins of Stalingrad, in the jungles of Vietnam, in the valley of the Euphrates, which flowed past Eden, long time passing, long time ago.  

Where have all the graveyards gone?

    Shannon knows where they’ve gone, I know where they’ve gone, we’ve traveled across America, we’ve seen what it’s become, a nation of graveyards, graveyards in every state, graveyards in every city, graveyards where moral courage has been buried, where the truth has been buried, where civil liberties have been buried, where honesty and decency and integrity have been buried, erased from existence, buried in the ground, buried and forgotten.

    Cindy Sheehan came here with a broken heart, she came here burdened with grief for her son, and has found healing, love, and hope.  When will America find healing, love, and hope?  When Americans finally understand what Republicans are–liars and hypocrites who worship an obscene ideology of greed, when they throw those liars and hypocrites out of power.  That’s when America will finally find healing, love, and hope.    

When will you ever learn, America?

When will you ever learn?

13 comments

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    • Alma on July 25, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Liveblogging with Cat.

    • feline on July 25, 2008 at 9:55 pm
    • feline on July 26, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Although, I will have to do it 2 or 3 more times, since my brains are a bit mushy right now.

    BTW, did you see this?

    Sheehan, activists booted from Judiciary hearing

  1. After live-blogging all day, this chapter is so eerie to me, so relevant.

    Cindy was at that hearing.

    They’ve managed to swiftboat her, managed to make comfortable Americans (and even, sadly, too many “progressive” bloggers) forget the enormous courage and heart that enabled Cindy to break through the web of lies surrounding the war in Iraq.

    I will never forget what she did.

    Great chapter, Rusty.

    • RiaD on July 26, 2008 at 4:50 am

    my head is not in the correct space to read, even tho i’ve tried several times….

    i’ll catch up another day.

    i’m sorry

    • Alma on July 26, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    You caught the mood there just right, I think.

    Sorry it took so long to get back here.  Lately its been a scramble for the computer.

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