August 26, 2005

At Walter Reed...

It is Friday night. Families of the men and women at Walter Reed are filtering in and out of the old building, coming and going from their loved ones. Some are pleased with the progress they are seeing, the healing they witness each time they visit. Others are saddened by the weakening and loss they see, and are concerned that the time they have with their dear one is short.

Alone or in small groups they make their way up the walk to the entrance of the building. Alone or in small clusters they find their ways back to their cars. Alone or in small gatherings, they worry and wonder and make necessary plans for homecomings, whether to a small warm room in the family home, or to a sun-caressed piece of hallowed ground.

For months these people, the parents, spouses, and children of the wounded within, came and went peacefully and were able to concentrate their thoughts and their emotions on helping their warrior to heal. Recently, however, this has not been the case.

Groups of protesters, not satisfied with the effect they have had outside government buildings and military bases, have begun to occupy the area through which pass the grieving and those with wounded hearts. They harangue the mothers of dying young men. They harass the wives of men who may never be whole again. They abuse the families of the dying. And they do so gleefully for their "cause."

Signs, slogans, songs, and shouted insults await those who come to say "goodbye", and those who say "welcome home" to broken men and women bearing the wounds of war be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Hatefull speeches are directed pointedly at the ambulatory wounded as they come to visit those beside whom they fought but who fared not as well as they. "Murderer," "Puppet of Big Oil," "Fool" are among the epithets hurled at them.

Free speech! They are exercising their constitutionally protected rights by abusing those who protect it, who bled for it, who are in some cases dying for it. Political dissent! They disagree with a governmental policy, so they attack those who are ordered to uphold it.

They proclaim their moral superiority by acting in an amoral manner toward families who are already filled with pain, further adding to the anguish they carry with them each time they visit.

Where are the men and women who would quietly form a strong, broad gauntlet along those walks to seperate those who would abuse from those who bear its brunt? Where are the active, reserve, retired, or discharged personnel who will place themselves around these families, to intercept the insults and yells of those who would hurt them? Where is the rumbling thunder of motorcycles bearing denim and leather-clad Viet-era Vets who remember first hand the feeling of being pelted in spittle and ire to stand alongside each other to make this quiet gauntlet?

Where are those who will come and thank these families by offering up their time to stand guard over them as they pass along that walk to their sons, their daughters, their wives and husbands, their mothers and fathers as they lay in their beds and wonder how they will rejoin their units, their families, and the world?

I cannot stand beside them as they make that passage. I can only ask those who can why they do not. I can only look into the anguished faces in photos on a news site and ask why they were allowed to pass unprotected from those who mistake Hate for Free Speech.

I can only ask one of you to take a place in that gauntlet for me, and to hold it strong for me, and to block the hate directed at a survivor, and do it in my name.

Posted by Mamamontezz at August 26, 2005 06:58 PM | TrackBack
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