Area Man Forgets

There’s something I am supposed to remember today, but for some reason I just can’t. What could it be? I’ve been asking people as they pass me on the street, often scaring them slightly as I jog them out of their focus by directly questioning them ‘what do I need to remember today?’ But so far, no one has given me a good response and I am as confused as ever. What have I forgotten?

As I try to remember, I’ll tell you what I see as I do my daily route along the city, reflecting on what has brought me to this moment. You see, I currently don’t have a permanent address and have spent the last 18 months living on the streets, making just enough to scape by and survive. But my life wasn’t always like this.

Back in 2002, I had just graduated from high school and I wanted to do something with my life so I decided to enlist with the Marines. In just a few months, I had completed my training and was on a plane to a country I knew nothing about on the other side of the world. Although I had never seen myself as an overly patriotic person, I was excited to do my part for my country.

When I arrived, I immediately was sent to the front lines on a mission. That mission would last weeks and end with losing one of my brothers in arms. I remember watching as he died in the sand next to me. Was that what I was supposed to remember? I feel like I spent a lot of time trying to forget that ever happened. Or the looks on the civilian’s faces as we took our revenge on their homes and livestock.

I would end up spending the next 6 years of my life on multiple tours, flying back and forth across the ocean, thinking I was making a positive difference as the images of horror after horror piled high in my memory. The more time I spent in the military, the worse my mental state became. There’s only so much of that that you can take.

Eventually, after I suffered a particularly bad injury from a drone strike aimed at the wrong building, I was able to return home and move into an office job with my unit. Soon after that, I left the military entirely, planning to go to college and pursue the career I had always wanted but didn’t think I could have.

Only, PTSD isn’t something that is so easy to get over and employers want someone who isn’t bogged down in memories of war crimes and atrocities. I tried to live a normal life, I just don’t think it’s for me. Or maybe it once was, but not anymore. Not after what I did and what was done to me.

Even now when I close my eyes I can see the faces of the dead. Hundreds, maybe thousands. That’s one thing I’ll Never Forget.

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