Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 4

Reach out, reach back, lift up, we’re gonna rise together.

I had left most of my memories in Iraq back in the Middle East because there was nothing really great about my experience there. Whenever there was anything positive, such as the distribution of Christmas gifts or educational supplies or free medical clinics, the deaths of innocent civilians or soldiers always cast a shadow over them and caused those small moments of brightness to fall into the back of obscurity.

The wailings today reminded me of my overseas deployment as an infantryman in the United States Army in Iraq. We operated at night so when we went on missions, the families of the people we had just awakened from their sleep were already scared as they were rounded up with their husbands. They anguished even further as the small children, the sisters, and mothers saw us take their brothers or fathers away. They wailed so emotionally, those cries cut right into your soul because there’s nothing worse than being powerless when you see a loved one being taken away and we understood that. In the end, the sad tragedy of all this is that most of the men we took into custody were innocent. It’s just in a bid for money, some Iraqis were giving the U.S. false intelligence with the innocent civilians caught in the middle who just happen bear the blunt of that greed.

Today’s performance was like that. As soon as we got off the bus and were separated, we all knew we were going to be in an unsafe situation. The N-word confirmed that any sense of dignity anyone had for us had disappeared, rendering us powerless. Walking from the sidewalk to the dirt path, filled with small rocks, we knew something was going to change. It wasn’t so bad until we came to the bridge and started to hear the loud thuds of the slave owner’s staff. It became even more tense as the sounds became louder and louder the closer they get.

Near the end of the day, the question was asked, knowing what you have learned so far what is one thing you are going to do (involving civil rights) once you go head back to Eau Claire? (well, a question similar to this)

I answered, when I get back to Eau Claire, I have never voted before but coming down here and learning about the hard times people had to go through just to be able to give us the right to vote, I’ll be voting for the first time.

On a peculiar note, on our night quest this evening, we just missed a robbery. Nearing the end of our evening walk, everyone had decided to go the gas station for our last stop. From 50 meters away we saw that the lights were off so we headed back to the stop lights. When we got there, the lights were red, so we looked back and as we did, a second police car had pulled up next the police car already there. When the police officer came to the door, the lights came back on and he was allowed to come inside.

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