The Importance of Being Bradley

I’m feeling almost sick waiting on the verdict of the hearing. I don’t write about politics or the news

very often on here. There’s plenty of that to go around and more than enough opportunity to voice my opinions on such matters. For here, I tend to focus on the personal and that which is personal, yet shared, among my peers. But in my heart this case feels personal and it has since the story first broke, when I first saw that very young man being led in handcuffs to what would become a seemingly endless confinement to a tiny cell. I’ve spent time in a holding cell, about 48 hours, and it damn near drove me mad. I can’t even fathom what two years in such a place would do to a person.

I know there are a lot of people who care and who do take it personally as well. This case and it’s outcome will be a turning point in our country, just as the release of the Collateral Murder video was also a turning point. Those of us who know veterans and have heard their stories weren’t terribly surprised by what we saw. Most vets will tell you these things, and worse, much worse, happen all the time. There was something that was disturbingly ‘safe’ about having that knowledge restricted to a select bit of the population. Like incest, you want to keep it hidden away and that first confession, no matter how healing it is, feels like having a layer of skin ripped off.

 I had a friend who was in Vietnam who told me about taking trophies, human ears, and wearing them strung around their necks like jewelry. War does that to people, it makes them do things you would never imagine them doing. This man was one of the kindest most caring people I knew and yet he had at one time sliced ears right off peoples heads. He told me that if someone was in the road when a truck of troops came along that person would be run over and left to die. It didn’t matter if that person was a child or an elderly person, which they usually were. There were other things too that he wouldn’t talk about but I can imagine.

Most people don’t want to know these things. I don’t want to know these things and yet I feel it’s my duty to know them because I live in a country that perpetrates more war than any other. I want to know these things so that I never forget why I oppose war in any way possible, even if most of them don’t feel very effective.

There’s another layer to this story and it’s even more personal. I have children about Bradley’s age. I have always taught them principles of honesty and integrity. You know, do the right thing and you will be rewarded, at least if only with the knowledge and satisfaction that you took the high road. How can I tell them that now? How can I tell them to intervene if they see injustice if they see an innocent young man go to prison for life for doing just that? It’s one thing to teach your kids that life isn’t always fair but this goes far beyond unfair.

Obviously Bradley’s parents taught him the same kinds of values, and now they have lost their son because no matter how this all turns out he will never be the same guy.But in the midst of all the grief and anguish I hope they will always be proud that their son changed this country forever in a way that needed to be changed. The scab has been ripped off, the flesh is still raw and now its up to us as a nation to decide how to heal the wounds of war and injustice.

© 2010-2013 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

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About nanakoosa

Me...I am a trained Advocate and Counselor with 20 years experience working with Youth and Families. My most recent employment brought me to the field of Domestic and Sexual Violence Counseling and support. I myself am a Survivor of violence and have been on both side of the service desk, which provides for a unique, often conflicting, theoretical orientation. I am a regular blogger, journal keeper and story teller. My current focus is to give voice to the experiences of survivors, to shine some light in the dark corners of family life where all the spiders and creepy things hide. I also enjoy writing about my unconventional childhood in the tumultuous 60's and am dabbling in memoir writing. I have three wonderful children, two fabulous granddaughters and an assortment of pets. View all posts by nanakoosa

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