Casualties of War

I’ve been working my way through “The Pacific”, I’m watching episode 9 of 10 now, and in it one of the characters, Sledge, has just had a defining moment where he stopped seeing everybody an enemy and has started seeing them as individuals again, regaining a piece of his humanity.

I need to go back and watch the Sean Penn/Michael J. Fox movie “Casualties of War” again.  It’s a good movie to begin with, and it’s been years since I’ve watched it.  In the movie, Fox is a veteran of the Vietnam War and is back in the states after it’s all over with.  He sees a girl that reminds him of what happened, not that he could ever forget.  It’s probably not an overt theme in the movie, but some of the guys in the platoon see everyone of the locals as an enemy, killing them on sight.  It’s why so many of those atrocities happened back then.  And some of them didn’t, and they’re the ones that stood up for the innocent.

Last night when I was watching an episode, probably where they hit Iwo Jima, I remember thinking “Shit.  I’ve been shot at and blown up, but I’ve never been shot at or blown up like that.”  Those guys, in both wars so so much worse than I have.

It’s a struggle for me, fortunately I don’t live in an area with a huge population of ex-pats from Afghanistan or Iraq.  But certain sounds or scents can still raise my hackle.  I can work my way through it, remind myself that the person standing in front of me isn’t the person that was shooting at me then, but it requires a conscious effort and I find myself wondering now if it’ll pass, ever.  Or is that just one of those secrets you keep to yourself for the rest of your life?  The dirty shame of being a closet bigot?




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