My inbox looks like a breadline for sympathy. Some of the inquiries are genuine and appreciated. Others are seeking and self-serving. Half a world away, as the call-to-prayer echoes throughout a land steeped in a history more and more brilliant the further back you read, Kabul is on fire.
Abbey Gate erupts, I can’t know how. The SOPs have shifted. What we do know is a suicide bomber walked into a crowded, frenetic scene of humans scraping towards refuge and forced over a hundred lives to transition into what may follow. This is not traditional guerilla warfare. It’s the battle plan of cowards. In my opinion this tactic is a direct response to our drone program, which I consider to be a gutless representation of the American ethos. One such drone strike killed 7 children just last month (August ‘21).
All is fair in love and war, it goes. What a crock of shit.
In the days that follow I will see people I know in my post-military life accuse fellow Americans of being responsible. As if the war began at Abbey Gate.
As hope has left my heart for the people I once spilt blood on behalf of, another subsection thanks me for my sacrifice. It was almost an exact year I spent in the tribal regions of Afghanistan, about 3% of my total time on Earth. What my recruiter failed to mention was that I’d go back, again and again, every time I close my eyes to sleep.
The cost of one free Perkin’s breakfast a year is every Jack Ryan wannabe asking you stupid questions for all eternity. My favorite pastime is shattering their dreams of red, white and blue infallibility. May my smiting by the collective God be expeditious once I Google, “Statute of limitations on violating the Geneva Convention.”
All is fair.
The death toll at Abbey Gate exceeds 200, yet the stateside media mentions the 13 American soldiers and not much else. As if the 100+ others stopped being of quantifiable life because they were home when murdered.
To honor those killed, we at KAMO take on a workout crafted by a box in Guam where one of the fallen Marines—Maxton Soviak—trained. It is as follows:
13 Rounds For Time:
26 Box Step-ups
*Wearing a 20#/14# weight vest.
It takes me 60:06. When I finish I sit up but refuse to shed my vest. My arms drape across a plyo box, my head hangs between them and I cry. Not because I made it out of Afghanistan and Maxton did not. Not because it’s a natural part of the grieving process, I never knew Maxton Soviak. My emotions stem from his death (amongst others) being ammunition for empty political fodder. It is anger I feel.
A mere 121 hours later and we’re trudging past Bonita Flats, the infamous strip club, in the first hour of September 11th, 2021. On our backs are weighted rucks. We’re attempting to walk 100 miles in remembrance of those who lost their lives on that fateful day, or by proxy thereafter.
Imagine the 2,977 people sleeping twenty years prior, unaware that whatever trip they had planned for the day would culminate in abject terror.
“How do you choose to die over dying? You go to war. Or you leap from a burning building. This image resonates with me because we are all the Falling Man. The difference is he knew where the ground floor was and none of us do.” I once wrote.
Even the 246 in the planes couldn’t know with any certainty. They knew they were in trouble. But imagine peering out the window at the Hudson River, seeing the shadow of the plane on the water, and in a literal blink, in an instant violent enough for a commercial airliner to disappear from being, the potential of life beyond that moment is eviscerated. As if you never lived at all.
Maxton shouldn’t have had it in his heart that he knew was going to make it home. That’s the price of soldierdom. Civilians are another story altogether. Which is why 9/11 is a case study on American reactionary fury, and why I feel disgust in the neglected loss of life outside of the uniform at Abbey Gate and in the fields over which the drones hunt.
All is fair.
None of us make it 100-miles, but not for lack of trying. My bid ends at 36 miles, the furthest of anyone that participated. It’s a grueling undertaking that should be trained up for. We just went.
“Fuck it, we ball.” Maxton’s Instagram bio says.
That statistic by the way, the 246 that died in the planes, doesn’t account for the hijackers. Fuck them.