(ed:..this is a talk hedges gave on sunday night..)
“..Many of us who are here carry within us death.
The smell of decayed and bloated corpses.
The cries of the wounded.
The shrieks of children.
The sound of gunfire.
The deafening blasts.
The stench of cordite.
The humiliation that comes when you surrender to terror and beg for life.
The loss of comrades and friends.
And then the aftermath.
The long alienation.
The lack of sleep.
The inability to connect to all living things – even to those we love the most.
The repugnant lies mouthed around us about honor and heroism and glory.
It is only the maimed that finally know war.
And we are the maimed.
We are the broken and the lame.
We ask for forgiveness.
We seek redemption.
We carry on our backs this awful cross of death -
- for the essence of war is death -
- and the weight of it digs into our shoulders and eats away at our souls.
We drag it through life – up hills and down hills – along the roads – into the most intimate recesses of our lives.
It never leaves us.
Those who know us best know that there is something unspeakable and evil many of us harbor within us.
This evil is intimate.
It is personal.
We do not speak its name.
It is the evil of things done – and things left undone.
It is the evil of war.
We do not speak of war.
War is captured only in the long, vacant stares -
- in the silences – in the trembling fingers – in the memories most of us keep buried deep within us -
- in the tears…”
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