The Lives of the Occupied

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The invaders set up camp on the outskirts of our village a week ago. A few days later, their tanks began rolling down our streets with their turrets traversing from left to right and only stopping to point there cannons at anyone crossing the roads. A few of the villagers responded with anger. They grabbed their rifles and rocket launchers ready to use force to repel this act of aggression. The troops came to recruit police officers and soldiers to help provide "security" for the new government. Checkpoints were set up at every other street corner. What did we do to deserve this? All we want is peace and to be left alone not guns pointed in our faces with soldiers at every street corner questioning our every move. While driving to the market, to pick up some food, I was stopped at a checkpoint. There stood three soldiers and a giant armored vehicle three times the height, and twice the length of my car. While staring into my vehicle one of their translators shouted a series of questions, "Where are you going? What is this in your trunk? Do you have any weapons? You say you have nothing to hide?" They clearly thought I might have been hiding something from them. A soldier pulled me out of my car and searched my body. He started combing through my hair with his fingers. Completely frightened, I asked what they were looking for. He barked something at me in his strange dialect and kicked my legs apart. He patted me down and across my torn and threw his knife-shaped hand into my crotch. The other soldiers whipped out their knives and ripped apart my car's interior only leaving the seat's metal frames. They motioned me to leave so I limped back to the car and drove off. This event happened at least multiple times a week, sometimes daily. Of course, it was a little easier for them the following times since they had already wreaked havoc on the inside of my car. I only pray that they don't harm me or my family.

The first villagers who took up arms against the invaders fired mortar rounds into the invaders' encampment. Some of soldiers at the checkpoint next to the market spotted the flashes evacuating the mortar tubes. The occupiers sent armored vehicles down to the house and ripped through its walls with machine gun fire. The men inside the house were killed.

The next day the multiple convoys of troops swept through our village. They were looking for mortar tubes, rockets, and other explosives. A group of soldiers kicked down my door and ran into the living room pointing their guns at my family and me. I was pulled out by my hair into the street. A translator asked if I had any explosives or weapons in the home. I didn't. They proceeded to rip apart my home by flipping over the couches and throwing about all of my family's personal effects. The translator informed me they found nothing but I had to be taken back to their encampment for questioning. My hands were forcefully zip-tied together behind my back and a black cloth was thrown over my face. I was then thrown in the back of truck with other people from my village. Some of the men were crying and begging for god's help. Some were pissing all over themselves. Others pledged revenge.

We arrived at the military base and were lined up next to each other. We were individually taken into a room for questioning. Many of the men were detained there for days while the rest of us were allowed to go back to our homes. I later discovered that almost every male for age 15-45 were taken from the village that day. Once again, others plotted to use force against the invaders.

I woke up the next morning to the sounds of rockets being fired over our village. I rushed outside and saw that they were exploding somewhere inside the military encampment. Then my sight went black. I woke up in the middle of the street. The four houses around me were demolished. I looked towards my home which had also in ruin. My wife and children were under the rubble. Grabbing each piece of rubble and throwing it wildly into the street; I searched for my family. I asked a couple of others running frantically looking for their loved ones what happened. They said the army responded to the rocket attack by sending a barrage of mortars into the village. They missed.

I found my wife and children dead. They were crushed under the rubble of our home. A patrol of soldiers came and tried to compensate my losses with money. I refused to take it. No amount of money could possibly bring back my family or my home. There were others in the village that lost family and friends to the bomb-driven slaughter. We have all lost the will to live. We're getting guns and promising retribution.

This could have been a story written by an Afghani, or an Iraqi but it was written by me. I was part of that occupying force in Iraq. I put myself in the shoes of a person on the other side of our guns. Some of the events in this story I personally witnessed, and others are the stories of what other veterans have seen. I hope and pray one day that all Americans are capable of exercising empathy and are able come to the logical conclusion that violence only produces more violence.

Blowback is real and it is perpetual in the lives of the millions across the globe. However, there is one presidential candidate who has vowed to end it. Vote Ron Paul to help end this vicious cycle.

Andrew Mason [send him mail] is a former corporal in the U.S.M.C.

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