July 25, 2003

A river of light pours through the french doors in the resident's main lounge. Beyond the patio I can see a few of the younger citizens of Millersville, Pennsylvania going about their morning business as though nothing has changed. And, on the surface, nothing has. Everything remains the same here in the Pennsylvania dutch farm country. The corn is finally making tassels. The incessant spring and summer rain and chill has gone. A "Plain" lady - she is wearing a white bonnet, magenta dress, and white apron - hangs the wash out on a pulley line. She cranks each hung article away from her with her left arm, and it ascends in jerks toward an out building about 75 feet from her house. A farmer drives his wagon toward the feed store that I know is just over the hill, and I am sitting here reading the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal (our local newspaper) as I am apt to do every morning. I am accompanied by Jim and Peter's never-ending political argument which I am trying to ignore. Peter, however, snaps my opened paper from behind with his index finger and says "So, I suppose you still think we shouldn't be in Iraq, and, that we shouldn't have killed the maniacal bastard's evil sons?" To which, I, being a liberal democrat, am supposed to beat a hasty retreat with tail between legs, and make some politically correct statement like, "I pray for the safety of our troops in Iraq?" Instead, I say, "gentlemen, we've been through this too often. You know my opinion - we shouldn't be there in the first place - and you've used it to cause half the residents of Pine Needle Retirement Home not to speak to me. Our president is wrong! Our country is wrong and I refuse to make further comment."

I got up as quickly as I could, pushing my arthritic frame into a tilted version of the vertical with the aid of my cain, and walked stiffly to my apartment. Arriving in my rooms, I sat on the old couch that once stood opposite the fireplace at Orchard Hill and ran my hand through the wisps of hair still in residence on my pate. I took pen and paper from the drawer in the old desk turned-side-table and began to write.

I have been meaning to address this topic for months, dear journal, ever since "Duh-bu-yah" declared Gulf War II OVER back in May. Last count, 34 american soldiers have died since that day. And, I can't help wonder how many unnamed Iraqis have died as well. Even Teddy Roosevelt had an excuse to invade Cuba back in 1898, all be it, not a very good one. "They sunk our battle ship!" In Iraq however, there is no direct connection to our invasion and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as so many believe. We act like ancient Roman barbarians. But instead of putting our victims heads on spikes for public view in the forum, we take digital photographs and display them for the citizens of Iraq and the world to view in their morning and evening papers, the morning and evening news, and on the Internet. The New Roman Republic!

I wrote a sort of a poem about my feelings. It is partially a response to a piece sent by a well meaning good friend via e-mail and it is titled "The Stand." Perhaps you've read it. It was widely circulated during Gulf War II. I will not include it here as it is a piece of drivel. Not a stand at all, it is but the repetition of every platitude offered in support of a preemptive strike in Iraq. I will include my rebuttal below.

My Stand

Isaac Stolzfuts

I as born on September 11, 1919.
I was with my great grand children
On September 11th, 2001,
My 82nd birthday, and
We celebrated by playing together.
Drawing pictures, they told me what they saw;
The farm, our orchard, friends at school,
Their Mom and Dad.
The TV’s white-noise-background
Suddenly startorian to my mind
Though the anchor man’s voice
Even and measured announced
“APPARENT TERRORIST ATTACK...”
Pulled us away
And, no longer laughing at play,
We watched "live" as thousands died.

It felt as though we were there
Engulfed in that black cloud of dust,
The taste of death in our mouths.
Rebecca (named after her Grandma)
Cried, “That’s just a movie, Grandpa,
Right?” And Abe Junior said,
"Where are all the super heroes?
When we need-um!"

Well, the super heroes are in Iraq today,
Fighting for what they believe.
I pray for their safety even as
Mr. Bush says, “ I pray for peace.”

I was born on September 11, 1919,
At the end of WW1 and the flue epidemic.
It was a Surreal world of horror
Born on September 11, 2001.
A world in which the lost lives of Iraq's
Women and children are not counted.
A world in which stolen artifacts
Testament to the beginning of civilization
Are casualties to Imperialist ambition.
A world in which a 21st century crusade has begun.

I do not believe in this war.
I do not believe in the "New American Century."

I do believe in a United States that stands for peace and trust.
I do believe in a United States that leads the world by example.
I do believe in a United States that bequeaths to the world
A vision of democracy and freedom.

Each American in Iraq is a hero and a patriot.
Each American who states his or her opinion
Opposing this war is also a hero and a patriot.

Dissent is one of the freedoms we believe in!
Would you have 225 years of national endeavor destroyed?
Do not call me anti-American.
Do not tell me that I did not suffer on September 11.
Do not tell me that I am not a patriot.

I was born on September 11, 1919.
My life always circled around Nine Eleven.
By birthright I am Nine Eleven.
I am a child of Nine Eleven.
I am freedom.
And, like Whitman I am part of you
And all of you are a part of me.
I am American.
I don't believe in this war of American conquest, and
I am a 21st century American patriot!

E-mail me at ZacSfuts@aol.com
My home page on AOL Hometown.

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