Please note that all over the USofA Inc, there will be vigils on the evening following the Death of Soldier #2000. We are at Soldier #1988 tonight.
I first wrote the following Grave of the Known Soldier…Save Juan Smith #1999 when there were 146 kids left before #1999 for us to wake up, for us to stand up. Stand up. Now we’re down to 11. We still could save Juan Smith #1999.
Every time I read this #1999 piece, it seems distilledly stupider for grown-up conscious beings with consciences to be pretending to solve problems by mutilating other people’s children at the cost of $200,000 per minute in Iraq, $820,000 more dollars per minute for militarism in general.
(The idea that we need more next-generation destroyers or more Trident submarines or more D-5 missiles or any Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrators or any of that fantasy Missile Nonsense aka Star Wars program ($14,000 per minute) while we in our small city and you in your town are increasing class size or closing schools entirely is pornographic past any bared bosoms or rumps. This pork & paranoia of bloated papally infallible military grand theft must be arrested if we are ever to thrive in the next age.)
The three-year anniversary of my beginning to go out alone with my TEACH PEACE sign just around and about downtown is October 9, 2005. Today is 1107 days in a row with my now-beat-up sign. I went out this last Friday evening to stand on a main corner at commute time, waving at the cars streaming by. People wave back or ignore me or honk or flash the peace sign. Only one ‘F**k Peace,’ whatever that could mean?
Anniversaries make us gather and condense our considerations around some hub. A birthday. A marriage. How many years we worked some place. How many days in a row you’ve carried a peace sign. 2000 kids killed in Iraq. (Who counts the Iraqi dead? About 30 World Trade Centers worth. They aren’t American, so So what?)
William Blake of ‘Tyger Tyger burning bright in the forest of the night’ and of ‘the Universe in a Grain of Sand’ flays us to the anniversary attention in every hour. It is so solemn and splendid and giddy to be alive as long as we can stay awake and not sleep walk through our days –- or nights, sooth be said.
Blake exhorts us to know that ‘A skylark wounded in the wing, A Cherubim does cease to sing.’ And we hurl shock and awe by the explosive tons at the collateral children of Iraq? In Auguries of Innocence, Blake also says ‘Nought can deform the human race Like to the armor’s iron brace. When gold and gems adorn the plow To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.’
We are deformed by this war. It is too late in history to be mutilating children to haruumph that we are strong. If it weren’t so dangerous and stupid, we could howl derisively at the absurdity. No, George, no, we are making more terrorists and proving to them how very effective their suicide cheap-car driver is compared to our suicide expensive-tank driver. Ours noble, theirs craven? No, both insane. But conned and brainwashed by adults who never send their own children or, gods forfend, find the cause noble enough to go themselves.
We got past one kind of human sacrifice in history. However, we still sing a war anthem and drink the putative blood of our deity. But we did get past separate water fountains for Colored and White (in my benighted town when I was a child). My mother was born in the year when women were considered human enough to vote. Big changes do happen. War is a dinosaur. We do dump militarism on the slag heap of history – how soon depends on you. When do you stand up? Kick Inertia in the shin. Apathy is only amusing, and then vaguely, in petulant 13 year-olds.
‘What difference can *I* make’ you waveringly wonder? Well, if the sonsabitches woke up one morning and every single one of us who is adamantly pro-peace was standing out in front of her or his house or apartment house or trailer with a PEACE sign, do you doubt their gonads would jellify? There is a tipping point. The sooner you add to the body count for the helicopter photo, the sooner it ends. It is up to you.
Save Juan Smith #1999…The Grave of the Known Soldier.
What do we know about Sgt. Juan Smith who is doomed to die on Tuesday November 22, 2005?
Why does it bother me particularly that he is a huge fan of the fey movie Spinal Tap, a celebration if there ever was one of harmlessness? Perhaps because it is unexpected that a 26 year-old has such quirky taste. I like that in him.
Well, he’ll be 26 when he is shot in the head. The left side of his head. His brains will splatter onto soldier Raymond Callahan, his second best friend, a 22-year-old from Alabama whose mother, Joyce Callahan, voted for George Bush in 2000, but will never vote Republican again. Mrs. Smith, Juan’s mother, dwells in a twilight of sadness.
Juan Smith’s birthday is on November 8, so he is 25 now as we watch in August, waiting for him to die. Just turned 26 when he dies. He is a Scorpio with Pisces rising. Brave, dreamy, very very smart about the conscious world of day and of tanks, RPGs and rubble, and of the unconscious world, which runs the whole shebang in Iraqi, but which is never spoken of.
Juan Smith does not have to die. He does not have to be #1999. We could stop it at once. Someone will be the last man’s name on a stark white cross. The last man on The List. Maybe it could stop at #1888? Mr. Bush could see that piling up more dead in flag-draped coffins we are not allowed to view will not make the war end better. It is going to end badly. We know that. Nothing will keep the insurgents from blowing up American soldiers for the next 300 years. Cheap explosives. Countless idealistic young men, sold, like ours, a bill of goods.
There will be some morning when The Lizard Leaders lie no more. Because nobody’s buying their snake oil — well, lizard oil, I guess.
Damnit, Juan, I don’t know what to do to save you. I do not know what to do. We talk now a little. I’m psychic. I’ve seen his death. He’s seen me seeing it. He’s imploring me to turn back time before it is reached so he can go home, marry the very pretty — not beautiful, but very pretty, Felicia, buy the blue pick-up truck his cousin could sell him in the first week of December if he could only live that long. Their first child would be named Joseph.
Is it Baquba? Taji? Al Asad? Abd Allah? I cannot read the address of the bullet yet. He has written the name of Felicia inside his helmet with a Sharpie. Felicia es mi ángel. He drew a heart above and one below.
Felicia keeps his tooled cowboy boots by her bed, waiting for his return. Which does not happen because we did not pour into the streets soon enough. We lamented, but did not act. As if our being embarrassed or discomfited was more unbearable than the death of #1999.
Is there ANY way we can save Juan Smith #1999 using the energy and the smarts of people like you and Cindy and me and any darnbody at all?
“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Iraq for a mistake?”²
I actually asked myself when I woke up this very morning, “Would I sleep with Karl Rove if it would stop the war today?” I have to tell you it was a sobering question which I could not answer at once. You cannot possibly imagine how much I despise slitherer Karl Rove and how much stealthy evil he has done with premeditated malice. But now after a few hours of thought, clearly yes, to stop the senseless death of another kid, I’d even do that.
When I first thought of saving Juan Smith, 1988 American soldiers (sons daughters fathers mothers individual unrepeatable lives) had died in the quagsands of Iraq Can we possibly pull our ingenuities and resources together and save Juan Smith destined to be #1999?
That would give us 11 dead to wake up, write our Congress people,¹ write Letters to the Editors. Save Juan Smith #1999. Or does the count drone on and we sit baffled, eloquently lamenting?
¹ All the contact info for House & Senate is at afterdowningstreet.
² Adapted from John Kerry’s 1971 speech before Congress.
Ed:LisaMPowered by Sidelines