“We love our country too, we just don’t want to fuck it.”
-SGT Thomas, J.
A common situation for anyone, I’d imagine: you’re riding in a van before sun up. You pass well manicured lawns and large houses that are apparently legally bound to display one or several American flags on their premises at all time. The NCO in charge of you—driving the van, turns to you and chuckles when he mentions how deep into clan territory you are. He then adds that he and his friends camp out and go hunting there, frequently. Yes, it’s 2015; and no it isn’t Mississippi.
If only for a second, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that patriotism—in it’s most popular form—is for white dudes.
Remember that time you were in Iraq and two of the soldiers from your governing battalion, the Wisconsin National Guard said that they were uncomfortable with how many black people were in your unit? You were showering, behind a white curtain that masked all the brown of your naked body, but didn’t cover your ears. They made an executive decision based on your unit’s negritude—that you should be called the “crack heads and convicts.” And so you were, from that day forward.
There was once a conversation being had amongst a group of medics about the state of the union. It was terrible, just terrible they said. “People are so fucking dumb, everyone wants to vote for someone just because they’re a nigger, now look what’s happened,” one peach flavored private said. “Next it’ll be a fucking girl,” said another. As I stepped into the room it fell shamefully silent. “Go on,” I said. “It was just getting good.” But, I guess I had crashed the party. Ruined the fun. The now blushing private silently stared into space—likely daydreaming of turning deer into jerky. These same gentlemen would soon after, be drinking something like Budweiser and most importantly—brandishing all manner of American flag paraphernalia: shirts, shorts, bumper stickers, license plates and tattoos. “We were just talking about how we’re gonna fuck up some hajis when we get over there SGT,” one of them said.
The Pennsylvania National Guard loves to have drill in Western PA. The troops love it even more when the woman who operates the most popular gut truck drives onto the range— confederate flag in tow, and serves up tasty treats in lei of MREs. I recommend the spicy chicken sandwich.
The South will rise again.
It was an awkward moment, standing at attention in formation, when the Wisconsin Army National Guard lured the battalion into singing along to their “Cotton Balers” song. That late in the game, just hearing the word cotton made it difficult to hold in our laughter. It was even harder when a cart full of cotton was wheeled out in front of the formation. How could I not laugh? How could I muster a straight face when their commander—reflecting on the deaths of two soldiers from the Puerto Rico National Guard—called them, “the Mexicans?” If he’d known how good they were at basketball, would he have called them the negroes?
Now you’re on the bus, going to a training event and the guys around you are all talking about how all these ghetto kids, “like Trayvon and them,” are getting too much attention for just getting shot. “This is fucking America,” another one says. “If you don’t follow the rules, that’s your fault.” And I knew he was right. So I followed the rules; I didn’t say a word.