A Letter to the Republic for Which We Stand

America, we remain your constant and faithful servants. Satellites that hover 23,000 miles above the planet in geospatial orbit feed down into our little dish and we get to see sports, current events, and news. We know what you’re up to. We might watch the news for 10 minutes after a long shift outside the wire, just enough to get the highlights, read it on the internet, have friends mail us copies of newspapers, or monitor CNN just as the insurgents do, for breaking news. Maybe you know one of us personally, or maybe we’re nothing more to you than nameless faceless soldiers on TV. Either way, we still know about the hurricanes down South, the newest movies and music, the earthquakes in Pakistan, and the latest football scores.You populate our dreams.Your state of affairs is part of our thought processes, however hard it may be right now to recall exactly what it felt like to stand within those borders. The mind and eyes play tricks on you when you live in this environment, always on guard, ready to kill if needed.Yes, we’re soldiers, but who wants to live this way? What man enjoys being threatened all the time? Show me that man and I’ll show you a fool. But ask me to show you a person who is willing to live like this so that Americans back home can live more safely, and we’ll show you a couple hundred thousand.Drive your comfy cars to work, we want you to. It makes you the personification of our daydreams. As you’re giggling at the immature humor of local morning radio comedy, sipping a vanilla latte from Starbucks, oblivious of the gunshots and explosions in Iraq, and tailgating the car in front of you, we’re trying to stay alive out here. We are not complaining – we raised our hands and swore to serve. But we do envy the ease with which you can walk out of your door and take a casual stroll through streets that are not your own in that soft suburban streetlight safety.We wouldn’t expect you to alter your lives for us – you’re not soldiers. Don’t travel 7,000 miles to fight a violent and intelligent enemy -we’ll take care of all that. You just continue to prosper in the middle class, trade up on your economy sized car, install that new subwoofer in the trunk, and yes, the red blouse looks wonderful on you – buy it.Remain the same embodiment of our fading memories, the portal to our daydreams, the catalyst for hope when hope eludes us, a land of winding roads and fishing holes, pretty pictures in frames, campfire stories, fields of wheat, skyscrapers made of glass, a woodshop, a fireplace, a patriotic song. Be you a mantle full of family photos, a smiling face at a convenience store, a dog that follows us around the yard, someone we meet spontaneously and get along and laugh with, the feel of grass on our bare feet as we walk out to get the morning paper, a parade or a fair or a swap meet.Be you a pool table in a dimly lit room, a candle in a window, a Christmas tree, a rainy day, a hug after a hard day, a bowl of chicken noodle soup when we have a cold, the feel of a steering wheel in our hands, gravity tugging at our calves as we walk up a mountain trail, the thrill of water running over rock, a stone thrown from a bridge, or skipping across a lake, someone to call on a cell phone just because, or our favorite band coming to play a show in our hometown at an outdoor amphitheater. Be you the faces of strangers at that concert, laughing, smiling, silhouetted in light and smoke amidst the energy of musical celebration, or be Chris Cornell’s CD, Euphoria Morning, which has some lyrical moments that put chills down my spine.Be all of these things and more, as we know you can.Just be what you will, Americans, with your goods and bads, your lights and darks, your jerks passing at 100 mph in the slow lane ( Believe it or not, I miss you jerks – I will relish the next opportunity I have to give you the finger), your wrong change and bad attitude because you don’t like your job at the drive thru, your high school boy with braces handing us that delicious movie theater popcorn (extra butter please), your mall food courts, your egg-drop soup, your soft shell taco for .49 cents on Tuesdays, your dryer sheets that make the pillow case smell so damn fine, your beautiful face the first thing we see in the morning, your crying children, and yes, your diapers that need changing.Remain a perfect parody of yourself by having a mid-life crisis and listening to tribal meditative music on a state of the art CD player that you ordered from Sharper Image.com. Buy that Porsche and drive it to Yoga class, or be the guy in Wyoming whom I cursed because he won the Power ball and he was already a millionaire.Be whatever you choose. Let fate and destiny and blind luck and synchronicity guide you.But please remain constant as well, because we have changed.Don’t move the continent. Don’t sell the house. Don’t lose the dog.Just be Americans with all your ugliness and beauty, your spectacular heights, and your flooded cities, climbing the corporate ladder or standing in the welfare line. Live your lives and enjoy your freedoms. We’re not all walking idealist clichés who think your ability to work where you want and vote and associate with whomever you want are hinged completely on our deployment to Iraq. But you know what? Our work here is a part of that collective effort through the ages that has granted us all of those things.We just want to know you support us. That’s all we need.

A Letter to the Republic for Which We Stand


Joined January 2008

  • Artist

Artist's Description

The author ( a soldier when this piece was written) uses vivid imagery to explain his feelings while in Iraq.

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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