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The Eloquent Lamentors .. .. Yes, you. Yes, me.
“You seem so blue tonight, my turtle dove,” Fuller said. “That’s not your usual m.o. You usually insist on Pressing on, regardless.”
“Yeah,” said Flan wanly. “Well, I see that we don’t save Known Soldier, Juan Smith, Death #1999. We’re at Death #1878. That leaves 120 Deaths until it’s Juan’s fated turn – unless we rise up as ardent Lovers of Peace and pour into the street by the millions on Saturday September 24. But most people won’t be bothered. They’d rather eloquently lament. And then go to the Mall on that Saturday. Or to a wedding. Or worry about whether they’re too fat to be seen in public. The rut, the familiar rut will embrace them instead.”
“Remember that a Peace Rally is an unknown to most of them. They worry that they don’t have a sign. How will they get there? Will there be a bunch of slavering rowdy young noisy people? Or a bunch of graying old hippies that one would lose one’s cred to be seen with,” said Fuller.
Flan looked at him nonplussed. “Hmmm. I never thought that they might be shy about going to a Peace Rally. Well, they don’t need a sign. They just need to be a body milling around to swell the crowd. They’ll see the huge papier mache dove which needs three people to carry it – one for the body and one for each wing. They will see some graying hippies and for you that’s a down side in cred land, but also there will be a fascinating horde of people just like their own genre of folk and constellations of people not like them at all. They’ll grin and grin at the unexpected sweetness and variety of humankind who have showed up for peace. They will be so happy they took the chance. That they bothered to go. They’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.
“I go up on the train to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Millbrae and take Bart to the Civic Center stop, a few steps from the Plaza behind City Hall. I don’t actually do the March part. I arrive between noon & 1pm & I go directly to where the March will end at the Plaza behind City Hall, across from the new Asian Art Museum and the Main Library. A day pass on the train costs $7. The Bart will cost about $6. I call 511 & have them help me plan the trip exactly. No parking, no fuss. Once you’ve done it, you’ll always go to the city on the train, then Bart. It’s so restful. If you do have a sign, neither the train nor Bart minds. I usually stay til 2 or 2:30 and then wander on home.
“It is as instructive a few hours as you can possibly spend in your life – all that hope on the hoof. You will feel at once humble and bursting with pride – all these kind and earnest and wry and hopeful people in one place. You will be able to go back by the watercooler at work and say, ‘Guess what, I did the most astonishing thing.’”
“Who would not go if they knew how cool and important it is?” Fuller said.
“Those who would prefer to eloquently lament. The ones who will let Juan Smith, Known Soldier, Death#1999 die rather than outwit their own inertia. A Peace Rally is like the Justice Union striking against the Military-Industrial Complex, the hummernaut that has us all in thrall. ‘The madness of militarism,’ Doctor King called it, and a Peace Rally is like a strike against that.
“Do the psychic forces of KarlRovism have us cowed and enervated or can we take a stand? This is the question we will answer with our whereabouts on Saturday September 24 at 1pm. Like where were you when you heard Kennedy was shot if that was your era? This September 24 Peace rally is a barometer of how deep our resistance to war has become. Will it move us to a small but actual action? Or will we continue to eloquently lament?”
The Grave of the Known Soldier..Save Juan Smith #1999
What do we know about Sgt. Juan Smith who is doomed to die on Tuesday November 22 2005?
Why does it bother me particularly that he is a huge fan of the fey movie Spinal Tap, a celebration if there ever was one of harmlessness? Perhaps because it is unexpected that a 26 year-old has such quirky taste. I like that in him.
Well, he'll be 26 when he is shot in the head. The left side of his head. His brains will splatter onto soldier Raymond Callahan, his second best friend, a 22-year-old from Alabama whose mother, Joyce Callahan, voted for George Bush in 2000, but will never vote Republican again. Mrs. Smith, Juan's mother, dwells in a twilight of sadness.
Juan Smith's birthday is on November 8, so he is 25 now as we watch in August, waiting for him to die. Just turned 26 when he dies. He is a Scorpio with Pisces rising. Brave, dreamy, very very smart about the conscious world of day and of tanks, RPGs and rubble, and of the unconscious world, which runs the whole shebang in Iraqi, but which is never spoken of.
Juan Smith does not have to die. He does not have to be #1999. We could stop it at once. Someone will be the last man's name on a stark white cross. The last man on The List. Maybe it could stop at #1888? Mr. Bush could see that piling up more dead in flag-draped coffins we are not allowed to view will not make the war end better. It is going to end badly. We know that. Nothing will keep the insurgents from blowing up American soldiers for the next 300 years. Cheap explosives. Countless idealistic young men, sold, like ours, a bill of goods.
There will be some morning when The Lizard Leaders lie no more. Because nobody's buying their snake oil — well, lizard oil, I guess.
Damnit, Juan, I don't know what to do to save you. I do not know what to do. We talk now a little. I'm psychic. I've seen his death. He's seen me seeing it. He's imploring me to turn back time before it is reached so he can go home, marry the very pretty — not beautiful, but very pretty, Felicia, buy the blue pick-up truck his cousin could sell him in the first week of December if he could only live that long. Their first child would be named Joseph.
Is it Baquba? Taji? Al Asad? Abd Allah? I cannot read the address of the bullet yet. He has written the name of Felicia inside his helment with a Sharpie. Felicia es mi ángel. He drew a heart above and one below.
Felicia keeps his toolled cowboy boots by her bed, waiting for his return. Which does not happen because we did not pour into the streets soon enough. We lamented, but did not act. As if our being embarrassed or discomfited was more unbearable than the death of #1999.
08.16.05 98 days 141,120 minutes until the Death of Juan Smith #1999
Today, 08.15.05, we're at 1852 American soldiers dead. To me this isn't only about Ken or Casey or Roberto or Rachel — it's about Juan Smith #1999 — is there ANY way we can save that kid?¹
Is there ANY way we can save Juan Smith #1999 using the energy and the smarts of people like you and Cindy and me and any darnbody at all?
“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Iraq for a mistake?”²
I actually asked myself when I woke up this very morning, “Would I sleep with Karl Rove if it would stop the war today?” I have to tell you it was a sobering question which I could not answer at once. You cannot possibly imagine how much I despise slitherer Karl Rove and how much stealthy evil he has done malice aforethought. But now after a few hours of thought, clearly yes, to stop the senseless death of another kid, I'd even do that.)
As I write this mid-August, 1852 American soldiers (sons daughters fathers mothers individual unrepeatable lives) have died in the quagQuicksands of Iraq.
Can we possibly pull our ingenuities and resources together and save Juan Smith destined to be #1999?
That would give us 146 dead to wake up, write our Congress people, write Letters to the Editors. Save Juan Smith #1999. Or does the count drone on and we sit baffled, lamenting?
Save Juan Smith #1999.
ps. Please send this Save #1999 link to your friends.
² adapted from John Kerry’s 1971 speech before Congress;
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