During the past couple weeks, during the pain, grief, hope and heroism, I’ve been recalling something that happened to me during high school.
Desert Storm started when I was a Sophomore. I remember sitting in Madame Nelson’s French class discussing how cool it was going to be. We were going to bomb the living hell out of them. It was a movie, and we were going to watch it all on CNN. I remember bringing up statistics and cool military terms I’d heard my dad use. I felt really smart since my dad helped draw up a lot of the plans for fighting in the Middle East and was in the Pentagon’s Command Center for much of the war. He wasn’t going over there. For me, Desert Storm was very much a remote-control war. I watched it all on TV, heard about it from my dad, and never saw the death and destruction. It was all very antiseptic/Saturday afternoon TV for me.
Back to French Class. While my friend and I were discussing bombs, fighter planes and the advantages of the Abrams M1-A1 tank, there was a girl sitting next to me with a black armband on her right arm. I noticed it and asked her about it. She said she was wearing it because she didn’t like the war. She didn’t like that people were fighting over there and that we were there over oil and killing so we didn’t have to pay more for gas. That set my friend and I off. We spent the rest of class making fun of her for thinking something other than what ‘we’ thought.
I feel bad about that now. I don’t even remember her name, but I remember the look on her face. I remember feeling superior because I was onboard. I was ‘we’. I wish I could find her and apologize.
Don’t let the people who attacked us make us start taking away our freedoms. Free speech is paramount in the list. If we start quieting those who disagree with us, we’re no better than the people who did this. Especially now, in the wake of tragedy, we need to be mindful that we still have the right to free speech. I feel the anger well up when I read or hear something that doesn’t fall into the “patriotic American, nuke the bastards” world we live in and have been watching for the past week. I stop myself every time I feel that anger and remember the girl in French class who I made cry.