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Honoring Those Who Serve: Social Justice Versus Censorship

My eight years in the military was (among many other things) a consciousness-raising experience. Persons of color, and people from poor and rural communities, are disproportionately represented in our armed forces.

For many of the people with whom I worked, socialized, and lived among, the U.S. military didn’t merely represent one of many choices for improving their lives; it was, at least to them, one of the very few options they knew of. The general trade-off was a life of fairly modest means, hard work, and frequent change, and the ultimate trade-off was to give your life or at least your health, but many people (including me) served proudly on exactly those terms every day until they resigned or retired.

As a veteran, it saddens me to think that anyone I worked with, any of the people I knew who had made that bargain with the government, came home in a box or, at best, on a hospital stretcher. But it angers me that the same country that has an agreement that the poor will fight its wars, under the leadership of government officials who exploited that agreement for their own benefit, tries to censor the inevitable outcome of that agreement.

As Dylan Thomas wrote, “bury the dead, for fear that they walk to the grave in labor.” Let the public close the circle on these lives, with one last glimpse of these soldiers as they complete their final tours of duty.

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