“On September 11, 2001, Dad began his three-week walk toward death. In life, Dad was in charge. But when his crisis hit, he began to let go. He was transformed by the process, and found a new way to live his dying.
On the morning Dad found out he was dying, hijacked planes crashed into buildings that epitomized US economic, military and governmental power. The nation responded with talk of war and patriotic pride rather than grief and introspection. With that choice, the violence continued.”*
This September, I hear the beating of the war drums yet again. In order to move forward, I first need to look back to my lifetime of wars/CIA violence/military action, beginning in 1954:
Middle East 1956-58
British Gulana/Guyana 1953-64
Dominican Republic 1963-66
East Timor, 1975-99
Kuwait 1991, 96
El Salvador 1980-92
Iran and Kuwait 1991
Iraq 1991, 1998, 2003-2011
This doesn’t include the violence of our government and citizens against other citizens based on race, class, gender, gender-identity, nationality, religion…
Far too often, these wars didn’t resolve the root issues, resulted in extensive civilian and military deaths and trauma, and resulted in the diversion of money and human energy from community and people centered needs.
Dad’s choice of surrender to his grief and his clear personal introspection led to Life, even in his death. I pray that one day soon my country will begin to make alternative, powerful choices other continuing to use violence to deal with violence.
This long history of marching to war again and again is one part of our national story. The other part includes profound acts of generosity and compassion done by Americans and the US.
It is a wide paradox to hold.
The patriots I want to honor on “Patriot Day” are those who are fighting for justice and equity—within themselves, in their neighborhoods, in our nation and around the world. These patriots are many and their work is varied.
To each and every one of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
*Big Topics at Midnight: A Texas Girl Wakes Up to Race, Class, Gender and Herself (Portland: Rosegate Press, 2012) page 145.
Khara Scott-Bey’s illustration in Big Topics at Midnight is from the chapter that speaks to Dad’s dying from lung cancer as our country begin its long march to war.