First Wednesday in January 1991. The United States and multiple allies (we used to have allies in those days) was preparing to launch the Persian Gulf War. A tense time. President Bush (pre) was somber and resolute. It was, after all, a noble cause. Thus are wars positioned to the commoners. Having done some activism around peacemaking, the new war didn't sit well with me, but then no one asked for my opinion. And in those days, I didn't say a lot about things political. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Read more.
First Wednesday in January 1991. My Grandbaby was sick. Fluey. Running a fever and coughing. Not a good candidate for day care. I hurried to my son's house to care for him because son and wife had jobs out in the world. Grandbaby (GB) was sleeping fitfully when I got there. I looked in on him frequently for most of the morning. Finally, he stirred in a waking-up way. I scooped him out of his crib. He was so warm. His goldilocks were in wild disarray, damp curls clinging to his small face. He had no interest in food. Rejected apple juice. Finally, I plopped into the big recliner and offered him a baby bottle filled with water, which he accepted if not gratefully, then at least willingly. He was, I thought, the most beautiful grand in the world.
First Wednesday in January 1991. GB dozed off in my arms, snuggled up close to me. His breathing was raggedy, owing to congestion. But if I held him such that his head was higher than his small body, it seemed to help. I decided to stay in the chair, holding him, rather than trotting him back to his bed. So that's where we were when the siren sounded. Even now, I remember that it startled me. It must have been quite close to GB's house. GB stirred a bit when the siren went off, but slept on. It was, of course, the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. The appointed hour for what we used to call air-raid sirens to do their monthly testing. Mournful wailing. Loud. Intrusive. And, thankfully, bogus.
First Wednesday in January 1991. The siren wailed and suddenly, this Gramee found herself weeping'"big old tears cascading into GB's curls. And here's what I was picturing. Somewhere in Iraq, another grandmother, cuddling a small child. Maybe a sick child. She loves that little kid with her whole heart. She gazes down at the child's dark curls and thinks how lucky she is to have lived to see this. And then, the sirens sound. Only this time, the urgency is real. It means something deadly is about to happen. She is frantic. How to protect her grandchild from harm? Where to go, what to do? The sirens continue to wail and she finds herself weeping in fear. I dared not take this down the road to its worst possible conclusion. I kissed GB's forehead.
Turns out that war lasted only two months. Its outcome was relatively inconclusive, but que sera. We had done the warrior thing. Less than ten years later, Bush the Son became President of the United States. And, among other things, he decided to pick up where his daddy left off and show Daddy and the world how it's done.
The grandmother in my 1991 daydream probably survived the first Gulf War, along with her grandchild. It is less likely they are both still alive now. But if they are, her grand and mine are both 18 years old. Thousands of Americans are dead and countless others live shattered lives. Her country has been completely trashed, literally and metaphorically. Thousands upon thousands of her country folk are dead, dying, wounded. My country is responsible for all of that.
Specifically, George W. Bush is responsible for that. He is complicit in mass murder, no less than Saddam Hussein before him. It's just that Bush does his killing via surrogates at a remove rather than up close and personal. Either way, dead is dead and chaos is chaos.
My Grand now towers over me. He's big and he's strong. He's an athlete. He's a popular kid at school. He's smart. He's planning his future. I'm certain military recruiters would love to get their hands on him. There is no siren to warn him of danger. I pray that he's strong enough to withstand the pressure.
My Grand has grown up in the thick of Bush administration lies, deceit and war-mongering. Bush lies. Cheney lies. Rumsfeld lies. Rice lies. Rove lies. Libby lies. Likely Gates lies. Gonzales lies. And that's just for starters. That's how these people do business. This has been my Grand's model of American government.
Paraphrasing the oft-quoted sentiment, if today's kids aren't growing up cynical, they're not paying attention. And chances are, they're not. At least not in the same way some of their parents and most of their grandparents are. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe not.
Today is the fourth anniversary of George's Bloody War. There is nothing to celebrate. Nothing. The only real celebration linked to any war is when it ends. I see little hope for that happening anytime soon.
I am afraid for my Grand. For all my grands, actually. They are growing up in a country I barely recognize. They are safer than the grands of Iraq, I suppose. But that's only small and rather selfish comfort.
This nation of ours has long been touted (has positioned itself, in fact) as a model for democracy and decency. High road stuff. That is no longer true and cannot be true as long as there's a Bush or a Bush minion in or near the White House. I am absolutely convinced that's so. Are you?