"You know, you never get over combat."
One in three world countries still
CBC, Windsor; Winter 1986
Battle fatigue walks the world's streets
peopled with the victims of torture and war.
She could be a child rescued from a war-zone
in San Salvador; he could be a Vietnam veteran
who flinches and runs for cover when he hears
a chopper overhead; she could be a mother
tortured by the military in Chile or raped
in her own neighborhood in America; he could
be the victim of armed robbery near his home;
she could be an Indian warrior who has seen
too much fighting in Guatemala; he could be
a boy raised in a combat zone in the Middle
East. The lists and causes never stop
growing. The sight of any uniform, the smell
of any hospital, the sound when a car backfires
or the glint of sunlight against chrome can
trigger living nightmares in colors and voices
in the full light of day. It could have been
a jungle firefight, frequent beatings at home
or genital shock-treatments on days which never
end for sisters and brothers who live constant
pain, changed forever by war. Never will they
know life without horror; never will their
memories bring them joy when they look back;
never will their days or dreams forget the
hands or knives or bullets or barbed-wire
clubs used to rip flesh from the spirit
in Argentina or South Africa. Maimed for a
lifetime, the next person you see may be
a combat veteran, woman, man, elder, child.
So please, try to walk softly. Try to live
as much kindness as you can because no one
has to be shot at to get battle fatigue.
Listen quietly. You can hear children crying.
This magazine is produced by the Write Place and is funded through a St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, Minnesota) Cultural Diversity Committee allocation.
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