Some things never change. This issue took me right back to my days as an undergrad' at WWSC:
On Nov. 16, 2005, Senator Dick Durbin took the Senate floor to attack Senator Ted Stevens for allegedly permitting oil company executives to lie to the Senate Commerce Committee by not putting them under oath. Stevens, outraged by this assault on his integrity, demanded an apology in keeping with Senate rules prohibiting attacks on unworthy behavior. Durbin refused and the battle had begun. Sadly, it is the American soldier who is caught in the crossfire.
On August 2nd Durbin proposed a University of Chicago earmark to improve the imaging of traumatic brain injuries. Durbin had tied this to Defense appropriations bill hoping for the ''adaptation of current technologies to treat brain injuries suffered in combat.'' Stevens, who had turned Durbin down once before, did it again on this date as Steven's sub-committee debated the bill. According to My Left Wing
Stevens was prepared. ''We have to stop using Defense money for contracts with universities and basic research at the suggestion of a single senator,'' he said. ''Not one'' official from the military community, he said, ''came to us and said we needed more money for brain research.
My father died slowly of brain trauma received in a mortar attack outside of Saigon only nine-months before he was to retire. It took a year before the Veterans Administration who retained shrapnel in the head, chest abdomen and legs until the day he died, awarded him any compensation. It was truly a year from hell in which I saw my Rosie the riveter mother cowed, and almost destroyed by depression and anxiety.
The soldiers coming back from Afghanistan (remember them?) and Iraq have faced long punishing tours in-country, environmentally and biologically debilitating hazardous weaponry, head injury inducing improvised explosive devices and more. If our government does not do something to help these men our homeless population will grow with veterans who already make up 1/3 of its numbers.
There are two important civilian initiatives you should know that will assist veterans: Operation Helmet provides kits to soldier to further protect soldiers from injury. And IAVA, Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America, who are lobbying congress to stop cuts for traumatic brain injury treatment.
A partisan pissing contest in Washington should not be affecting the safety of our troops or the peace and continued well-being of their families.
No, today's post has nothing to do with China.
A poem from my last book recently revised as seen now:
FISHING FOR THE MOON
Into the lake's granite-dark
near the the moons floating blind eye
a small silver light fell.
I listened, a small child half asleep,
for a fish to wound the surface,
flare into the enormous night air.
and fight my father reeling him to shore.
One night, when I was seventeen,
indecisive breezes caused our scents to touch.
I remember the familiar odor of age,
cigar ashes rubbed into overalls,
and the Lucky Tiger on his black
forever military scalp.
At thirty-five I tried to quit ascensions
away from his tobacco farmer roots:
theology, the military, and marriage
preceded my realization that I was no match
for his tattooed arms, eighth-grade smugness,
and the, once embarrassing, southern vowels:
those long lines that could coax fishing tackle
to scribble success across the lake.
I walked its circumference the night he died
deafened by icy respirations giving in to winter.
Earlier, drowning in his own fluid, barely conscious,
he sometimes smile a delirious toothless smile
like he had just landed a lunker.
It was then that I promised him--
no, I had lied to him--
that I would come and take him fishing.
But, he resigned before that.
His eyes went white and turned inside,
toward the water, while his naked fingers
queried the dry pocket of his injury,
the head wound from Vietnam.
It almost a year to the day
after the seizures began,
arms limp at his side, when the man
who could could read nothing
but solunar tables and inland tides,
laid helpless in a nursing home bed.
They say it was pneumonia.
I say it was the lake claiming him.
And it was there that I returned his ashes,
that reticent at first, ebbed toward the center,
where I still find myself casting
lure after lure, fishing for the moon.
--Lonnie HodgePosted by lonniebhodge at August 19, 2006 01:33 AM | Email This