Why I Hate To Hear the Star Spangled Banner and Refuse To Say the Pledge

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I remember
a time when I would threaten a person for not respecting our flag
and loving our country. "Love it or leave it," I used
to say; "these colors don't run" was another one. I loved
my country and thought it loved me back. I was gung-ho all the way.
 I thought there was no greater occupation than to fight and
defend one's country. Hell, my dad did it, and his before him. I
would often boast how there had been a Gaddy in every war since
the American Revolution. I hoped to have the opportunity to defend
my country in a war, like my dad, my uncle, and both my grandfathers

I attended
and graduated from Virginia Military Institute, still believed in
defending America, and was commissioned into the U.S. Army. I wanted
to be the best soldier and patriot I could be. 9-11 happened and
I was fired up, ready to go seek revenge for what had been done
to my country and its people. I ridiculed the plastic patriots that
were suddenly waving the flag and yelling, "America is #1,"
because I had been doing it for years.

I believed
my government and its multitude of lies when it ordered me and others,
to protect freedom, and spread it to the oppressed people in the
Middle East.  The army was the army; it had its faults, but
I was going to fight America's enemy and I was ready, even excited.
So, in October of 2004, I was deployed to Iraq; Northern Iraq to
be exact, a nice little vacation spot named, Tal Afar. I didn't
find the enemy of America there; I found regular people who were
just trying to be free and out from under the new oppression that
we placed on them as a conquering army. I didn't find crowds of
cheering people thanking me for their freedom; I found hell; a place
where death and destruction awaited the freedom-creating US Army
around every corner.

Being a student
of history, the longer I was there, the more I began to feel very
Roman, killing and conquering all in the name of Caesar Bush and
the empire called America. I watched as my commander committed war
crime after war crime, shooting civilians and calling it victory
in battle. He would place whole neighborhoods and villages in my
detention facility for months; flex cuffed, thrown into old dirty
bunkers, constantly interrogated, denied medications, and kept from
their families. His reason for this action that created more enemies
than it eliminated: he wanted to, and was sure his actions would
be called heroic and would earn him accolades and promotions. Most
soldiers on his staff were too worried about their careers to call
him on his criminal actions; those who did were relieved of command
and called cowards or "gone over to the other side."

I watched as
he was promoted and his commanders praised him, completely ignoring
his war crimes. I too, did things that I am not proud of, things
I must live with every day. I began to find it impossible to justify
what I was participating in, I refused the awards and decorations
that were offered, for that is not what I saw the heroes of my youth
do for their country. That's not what my country told me I would
be doing, that's not how defenders of freedom and democracy are
supposed to conduct themselves, at least not the ones they told
us about in school. I was supposed to bring freedom and democracy
to the oppressed and defend my country from her enemies, not put
innocent people under the boot. I found myself, and my country,
being the oppressor of freedom, not the liberator as we claimed.

I believed
the honest people of America would hate me and call for my arrest
if they knew what was going on, but, I came home and they thanked
me and bought me a beer. They said, "good job," "We
hope you killed a lot of those SOBs for what they did." What
they did was nothing; I was more a terrorist than any Iraqi I meet
on the street or in battle. The only difference was I had a state
sponsor.

I came home,
my body and mind damaged, not as bad as some, but damaged just the
same. I looked for help, but there was none. When I told my superiors,
including my Chaplain, how I felt about the war, they tried to get
me out as quickly as possible so I would not become a "bullet"
on the general morning SITREP, and a statistic that would hurt the
war effort.

I have gone
to the VA repeatedly, but have not gotten any help. They gave me
drugs, told me nothing was wrong with me. They told me to just stop
bitching and that I should be grateful I get free healthcare. Officially,
The VA told me there was nothing wrong with me that I was not in
combat, because I didn't have the 10-cent badge I had refused. A
badge I refused because the army, in attempts to make people feel
better about the crimes they had committed, handed them out like
candy. I have been continually told nothing is wrong with me, despite
the fact their own physicians were treating me for PTSD and had
diagnosed me as having classic symptoms. Granted, the VA's kind
of treatment is to drug you out of your mind and put you on such
an emotional roller coaster that you’re better off without that
kind of treatment. Hell, I am a walking drugstore thanks to the
VA; I've got uppers, downers and all-a-rounder's.

I am lucky
I have the job I struggle to maintain everyday because of the insurance.
I struggle to feel normal again, trying to fix the damage to my
body and mind that was broken in a country I should have never been
in. Recently, I have discovered what my dad warned me about many
years ago was true: my country does not care about me; I am just
a warm body that once used, they can throw away and forget.

All those pseudo-patriotic
Christian warmongers want to give me for my emotional nightmares
and guilt is a beer and a thank you. So wave your damn flag and
feel good about yourself when you say thank you to a vet. Go ahead,
buy him a beer and congratulate him on his personal body count.
I say this: don't thank us for what we did, because if you knew
what we really did in your name, you would not thank us and buy
us a beer.

Help us, because
the country you so blindly support will not, and for God's sake
do not support sending more of our youth into that hell. Their blood,
and the blood of the innocent they kill is on your hands!

February
17, 2009

Christopher
Gaddy [send him mail]
served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Cavalry in Korea and Iraq as
an Intelligence Officer.

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