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Aaron LaLux Dec 2016
God Exists

The world has a funny way of reminding us,

God exists.

Sometimes I forget,
the freedoms I have as an American,
and I take these freedoms,
for granted,

but then,
the World reminds me,
and I remember,
that God exists.

God exists,

I see His Light’s reflection,
in almost everyone,
from the lowest slave,
to the highest pharaoh,

God exists.

For example,

I was on the train,
to Luxor from Cairo,
Aaron Lux headed to Luxor,
it only makes sense,

on the train I met an Egyptian man,
and I took this as divine intervention because I don’t believe in coincidences,
he worked/works for the United Nations,
as an assistant for economic development,

his English was perfect,
better than most Americans I know,
and we talked on that train ride,
to Luxor from Cairo,

once we arrived in Luxor,
we both parted ways,
but we made a plan,
to meet up the next day,

and we did and we went,
to dinner I brought a random Japanese girl,
we ate camel on a rooftop,
overlooking the Luxor Temple,

in the distance,

the lights of The Valley of The Kings,
reflected on caves of tombs such as King Tut’s you know what,
sometimes seeing death reminds me of being life,
and being life reminds me that God exists omnipresent in all things.

God exists.

We talked,
on that rooftop overlooking Luxor Temple,
we talked about philosophy and religion and politics,
and also about some new stuff,

such as the Arab Spring,
and each other’s family,
I told hime I was trying to reunite my parents in Thailand,
because of them together in this lifetime I have not a single memory,

and I’d like to see my parents together at least once,
before one of us three dies,
because you don’t get a second chance,
to live this single life,

I,

asked him about his parents,
he said his father had just been abducted,
by the Egyptian Secret Police,
see that’s what you call Boy Interrupted,

but this isn’t a cinema,
this a real life drama,
and I saw this young man of maybe 22 years old,
had had to grow up so quickly because of such adult sized problems,

he said he didn’t know where his father was,
he said the police had taken him just a week ago,
because his father was on the wrong side of democracy,
I guess that’s just how it goes,

see his father was part of The Muslim Brotherhood,
and had supported the Arab Spring,
which in turn had supported President Morsi,
who was elected democratically,

but old habits die hard,
and the Egyptians know that better than anybody,
not much has changed there’s still pharaohs and slaves,
this country is still ran by an aggressive military,

he doesn’t even know where his father is,
or if he’s even dead or alive,
but hopefully he doesn’t end up like Giulio Regeni,
found in a ditch with an X carved in his forehead and gouged eyes,

I,

realize,
then that I know nothing about “struggle”,
I realize then that the 1st world has nothing to complain about,
it is in that moment that reality popped my ignorant idealistical bubble,

I know nothing about trouble,
I come from a country where people complain about everything,
we get upset because a traffic light takes to long or a waiter screws up our order,
we feel depressed about nothing but we know nothing about real struggle or pain,

I will never again complain,
about being an American,
I mean my God this kid had his father abducted,
and he might never see him again,

God blessed it feels so good to be from a country with real freedoms God Bless America,

and I’m saddened and grateful at the same time,
I’m saddened because no kid should have his father taken,
I’m grateful because I was born in America so I’m entitled to amazing freedoms,
and I believe in the American Dream still wide awake in a country that feels Forsaken,

but there's no Sutherland,
in the original Empirical Motherland,
just brutal reminders resurrected like Jesus on Easter,
or King Tut's curse from Luxor's sands,

I am,
blessed to have freedoms and others don’t have,
simply because I was born as an American,
and I thank God for that fortuitous fact,

The world has a funny way of reminding us,

God exists.

sometimes I forget,
the freedoms I have as an American,
and I take these freedoms,
for granted,

but then,
the World reminds me,
and I remember,
that God exists.

God exists,

I see His Light’s reflection,
in almost everyone,
from the lowest slave,
to the highest pharaoh,

God exists.

∆ Aaron LA Lux ∆

www.amazon.com/Aaron-La-Lux/e/B00ODPJAOK
Aaron LaLux Oct 2016
God Exists

The world has a funny way of reminding us,

God exists.

Sometimes I forget,
the freedoms I have as an American,
and I take these freedoms,
for granted,

but then,
the World reminds me,
and I remember,
that God exists.

God exists,

I see His Light’s reflection,
in almost everyone,
from the lowest slave,
to the highest pharaoh,

God exists.

For example,

I was on the train,
to Luxor from Cairo,
Aaron Lux headed to Luxor,
it only makes sense,

on the train I met an Egyptian man,
and I took this as divine intervention because I don’t believe in coincidences,
he worked/works for the United Nations,
as an assistant for economic development,

his English was perfect,
better than most Americans I know,
and we talked on that train ride,
to Luxor from Cairo,

once we arrived in Luxor,
we both parted ways,
but we made a plan,
to meet up the next day,

and we did and we went,
to dinner I brought a random Japanese girl,
we ate camel on a rooftop,
overlooking the Luxor Temple,

in the distance,

the lights of The Valley of The Kings,
reflected on caves of tombs such as King Tut’s you know what,
sometimes seeing death reminds me of being life,
and being life reminds me that God exists omnipresent in all things.

God exists.

We talked,
on that rooftop overlooking Luxor Temple,
we talked about philosophy and religion and politics,
and also about some new stuff,

such as the Arab Spring,
and each other’s family,
I told hime I was trying to reunite my parents in Thailand,
because of them together in this lifetime I have not a single memory,

and I’d like to see my parents together at least once,
before one of us three dies,
because you don’t get a second chance,
to live this single life,

I,

asked him about his parents,
he said his father had just been abducted,
by the Egyptian Secret Police,
see that’s what you call Boy Interrupted,

but this isn’t a cinema,
this a real life drama,
and I saw this young man of maybe 22 years old,
had had to grow up so quickly because of such adult sized problems,

he said he didn’t know where his father was,
he said the police had taken him just a week ago,
because his father was on the wrong side of democracy,
I guess that’s just how it goes,

see his father was part of The Muslim Brotherhood,
and had supported the Arab Spring,
which in turn had supported President Morsi,
who was elected democratically,

but old habits die hard,
and the Egyptians know that better than anybody,
not much has changed there’s still pharaohs and slaves,
this country is still ran by an aggressive military,

he doesn’t even know where his father is,
or if he’s even dead or alive,
but hopefully he doesn’t end up like Giulio Regeni,
found in a ditch with an X carved in his forehead and gouged eyes,

I,

realize,
then that I know nothing about “struggle”,
I realize then that the 1st world has nothing to complain about,
it is in that moment that reality popped my ignorant idealistical bubble,

I know nothing about trouble,
I come from a country where people complain about everything,
we get upset because a traffic light takes to long or a waiter screws up our order,
we feel depressed about nothing but we know nothing about real struggle or pain,

I will never again complain,
about being an American,
I mean my God this kid had his father abducted,
and he might never see him again,

God blessed it feels so good to be from a country with real freedoms God Bless America,

and I’m saddened and grateful at the same time,
I’m saddened because no kid should have his father taken,
I’m grateful because I was born in America so I’m entitled to amazing freedoms,
and I believe in the American Dream still wide awake in a country that feels Forsaken,

but there's no Sutherland,
in the original Empirical Motherland,
just brutal reminders resurrected like Jesus on Easter,
or King Tut's curse from Luxor's sands,

I am,
blessed to have freedoms and others don’t have,
simply because I was born as an American,
and I thank God for that fortuitous fact,

The world has a funny way of reminding us,

God exists.

sometimes I forget,
the freedoms I have as an American,
and I take these freedoms,
for granted,

but then,
the World reminds me,
and I remember,
that God exists.

God exists,

I see His Light’s reflection,
in almost everyone,
from the lowest slave,
to the highest pharaoh,

God exists.

∆ Aaron LA Lux ∆
Truth.
Old Elm that murmured in our chimney top
The sweetest anthem autumn ever made
And into mellow whispering calms would drop
When showers fell on thy many coloured shade
And when dark tempests mimic thunder made
While darkness came as it would strangle light
With the black tempest of a winter night
That rocked thee like a cradle to thy root
How did I love to hear the winds upbraid
Thy strength without while all within was mute
It seasoned comfort to our hearts desire
We felt thy kind protection like a friend
And pitched our chairs up closer to the fire
Enjoying comforts that was was never penned

Old favourite tree thoust seen times changes lower
But change till now did never come to thee
For time beheld thee as his sacred dower
And nature claimed thee her domestic tree
Storms came and shook thee with aliving power
Yet stedfast to thy home thy roots hath been
Summers of thirst parched round thy homely bower
Till earth grew iron—still thy leaves was green
The children sought thee in thy summer shade
And made their play house rings of sticks and stone
The mavis sang and felt himself alone
While in they leaves his early nest was made
And I did feel his happiness mine own
Nought heeding that our friendship was betrayed

Friend not inanimate—tho stocks and stones
There are and many cloathed in flesh and bones
Thou ownd a lnaguage by which hearts are stirred
Deeper than by the attribute of words
Thine spoke a feeling known in every tongue
Language of pity and the force of wrong
What cant assumes what hypocrites may dare
Speaks home to truth and shows it what they are

I see a picture that thy fate displays
And learn a lesson from thy destiny
Self interest saw thee stand in freedoms ways
So thy old shadow must a tyrant be
Thoust heard the knave abusing those in power
Bawl freedom loud and then oppress the free
Thoust sheltered hypocrites in many an hour
That when in power would never shelter thee
Thoust heard the knave supply his canting powers
With wrongs illusions when he wanted friends
That bawled for shelter when he lived in showers
And when clouds vanished made thy shade ammends
With axe at root he felled thee to the ground
And barked of freedom—O I hate that sound

It grows the cant terms of enslaving tools
To wrong another by the name of right
It grows a liscence with oer bearing fools
To cheat plain honesty by force of might
Thus came enclosure—ruin was her guide
But freedoms clapping hands enjoyed the sight
Tho comforts cottage soon was ****** aside
And workhouse prisons raised upon the scite
Een natures dwelling far away from men
The common heath became the spoilers prey
The rabbit had not where to make his den
And labours only cow was drove away
No matter—wrong was right and right was wrong
And freedoms brawl was sanction to the song

Such was thy ruin music making Elm
The rights of freedom was to injure thine
As thou wert served so would they overwhelm
In freedoms name the little so would they over whelm
And these are knaves that brawl for better laws
And cant of tyranny in stronger powers
Who glut their vile unsatiated maws
And freedoms birthright from the weak devours
Freedoms Cost

His eyes they told a story
Of a man who gave his soul
No words were ever spoken
No lies were ever told

I remember him so clearly
As all the people passed him by
He sat there on the sidewalk
With sadness in his eyes

He held a simple cardboard sign
That he wanted all to see
Hoped we could remember him
For the way he used to be

He didn't ask for money
Or for feelings of dispaire
Would fight today like he did then
For the freedoms we declare

A veteran of the many wars
That allow us to live free
With a sign that read I fought for you
Will you please now fight for me

Poem by: Carl Joseph Roberts
Please share
Mateuš Conrad Nov 2018
to express the mind,
you must first tame
the heart...

hard... i know...
but mind, heart & mouth
do not mix...
hence "freedom of speech"
is equivalent to...
a, "freedom to ****"...

or burp.
     - but with what i actually
coming out of your mouth...
can i have the lobster, ma'am?
i think it's quiet unique
to... have a creature
urinating from its mouth...
not mentioned in the Quran
as a "***** meal"...

such simpletons took over
the emotion "argument"...
Beethoven is still playing
in the background...

           emotions are a set of
complexities...
they require thinking...
to be "censored"...
or rather...
  filtered"...

  they require coordination /
coordinating...
   akin to Beethoven's take
on a clockwork orange,
working from the "nadir"of the 9th...

only a deaf man might have
written such sights into a seeing man's
eyes... who... might
or might not... whistle the verse
into the lip-readings' of a a deaf man...
if... provided if...
he wasn't caught whistling
the *la marseillaise
...
a new clockwork orange...
        framed:
      ****... it's the same piece of
music, from symphony no. 9?
right?!

i have not concern for feeling...
what i have is a concern for
the thinking that...
ennobles said feeling to
concern itself with speech...

    these early 21st century
intellectuals...
what happened?!
tumor?               stroke?!
didn't they see "it" coming?!

when you entertain simple
emotions in conversation / "debate",
you're entertaining even simpler
thinking...
     play Ludwig! play!

    when someone is "offended"
by, "hate" speech...
      can you even begin to comprehend
the logistics of thought behind
that expression of lost nuance?
or lost metaphor?
can you?!
        i can't.

emotion, deservedly, requires as much
rubric aligned complexity
as thinking...
    you can't just feel "something",
or, "nothing"...
in the same variation of:
you can't "think" of something,
or "nothing" at all...

                     but what i'm hearing,
as suggested...
is the complete abolishing of
emotion per se...
  the whole logos contra pathos
bonanza of soap opera buggery...

as much as i'd like to entertain
eternity being a brain and a spine
confounded in a pickling jar...
to be honest?
i'd also like to feel something
once in a while...
sorry... forgive my sentimentality...
but a cogitans continuum
is somehow...
less than appealing for me,
right at this point...

freedom of speech...
   how about a freedom to think?
freedom of thought...
how about a freedom
to phonetically encode
what could have, but wasn't
supposed to be uttered?!
happy?

thinking doesn't motivate us,
feeling, does...
i've heard the hamster-wheel
turn thrice while writing this,
and i'm still not convinced...
as the ancient Greeks stated...
life is without meaning...
so why do we punish ourselves for it,
with it?
     the irrationality persuasion
of the insatiable heart...
feelings... oddly enough...
no one's thinking will persuade me
to procreate...
what... **** once more
based on a Newtonian proposition?!
life is a labor of love,
  life is not, a labor of reason...
reason comes after,
and is never actually included
in the act of life,
rather, reasoned out of life,
as a post-scriptum,
enlarging itself into the realm
of an afterlife,
and the dogma of theology...
why would feeling be deemed inferior
to thinking?
why not suggest:
the thus expressed feeling?
the thinking behind it,
is inferior to the thinking implied
by the lack of contrary emotion
to engage with
the expressed "opinion".
When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.

First in the heart is the dream-
Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world,
On the great wooded world,
On the rich soil of the world,
On the rivers of the world.

The eyes see there materials for building,
See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood,
To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help,
A community of hands to help-
Thus the dream becomes not one man's dream alone,
But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone,
But your world and my world,
Belonging to all the hands who build.

A long time ago, but not too long ago,
Ships came from across the sea
Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers,
Adventurers and ***** seekers,
Free men and indentured servants,
Slave men and slave masters, all new-
To a new world, America!

With billowing sails the galleons came
Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together,
Heart reaching out to heart,
Hand reaching out to hand,
They began to build our land.
Some were free hands
Seeking a greater freedom,
Some were indentured hands
Hoping to find their freedom,
Some were slave hands
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
But the word was there always:
   Freedom.

Down into the earth went the plow
In the free hands and the slave hands,
In indentured hands and adventurous hands,
Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands
That planted and harvested the food that fed
And the cotton that clothed America.
Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands
That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.
Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls
That moved and transported America.
Crack went the whips that drove the horses
Across the plains of America.
Free hands and slave hands,
Indentured hands, adventurous hands,
White hands and black hands
Held the plow handles,
Ax handles, hammer handles,
Launched the boats and whipped the horses
That fed and housed and moved America.
Thus together through labor,
All these hands made America.

Labor! Out of labor came villages
And the towns that grew cities.
Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats
And the sailboats and the steamboats,
Came the wagons, and the coaches,
Covered wagons, stage coaches,
Out of labor came the factories,
Came the foundries, came the railroads.
Came the marts and markets, shops and stores,
Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured,
Sold in shops, piled in warehouses,
Shipped the wide world over:
Out of labor-white hands and black hands-
Came the dream, the strength, the will,
And the way to build America.
Now it is Me here, and You there.
Now it's Manhattan, Chicago,
Seattle, New Orleans,
Boston and El Paso-
Now it's the U.S.A.

A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said:
        ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL--
        ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR
        WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS--
        AMONG THESE LIFE, LIBERTY
        AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
His name was Jefferson. There were slaves then,
But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too,
And silently too for granted
That what he said was also meant for them.
It was a long time ago,
But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said:
        NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
        TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
        WITHOUT THAT OTHER'S CONSENT.
There were slaves then, too,
But in their hearts the slaves knew
What he said must be meant for every human being-
Else it had no meaning for anyone.
Then a man said:
        BETTER TO DIE FREE
        THAN TO LIVE SLAVES
He was a colored man who had been a slave
But had run away to freedom.
And the slaves knew
What Frederick Douglass said was true.

With John Brown at Harper's Ferry, Negroes died.
John Brown was hung.
Before the Civil War, days were dark,
And nobody knew for sure
When freedom would triumph
"Or if it would," thought some.
But others new it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery,
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
The slaves made up a song:
   Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
That song meant just what it said: Hold On!
Freedom will come!
    Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
Out of war it came, ****** and terrible!
But it came!
Some there were, as always,
Who doubted that the war would end right,
That the slaves would be free,
Or that the union would stand,
But now we know how it all came out.
Out of the darkest days for people and a nation,
We know now how it came out.
There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.
There was a great wooded land,
And men united as a nation.

America is a dream.
The poet says it was promises.
The people say it is promises-that will come true.
The people do not always say things out loud,
Nor write them down on paper.
The people often hold
Great thoughts in their deepest hearts
And sometimes only blunderingly express them,
Haltingly and stumblingly say them,
And faultily put them into practice.
The people do not always understand each other.
But there is, somewhere there,
Always the trying to understand,
And the trying to say,
"You are a man. Together we are building our land."

America!
Land created in common,
Dream nourished in common,
Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on!
If the house is not yet finished,
Don't be discouraged, builder!
If the fight is not yet won,
Don't be weary, soldier!
The plan and the pattern is here,
Woven from the beginning
Into the warp and woof of America:
        ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
        NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
        TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
        WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
        BETTER DIE FREE,
        THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans!
Who owns those words? America!
Who is America? You, me!
We are America!
To the enemy who would conquer us from without,
We say, NO!
To the enemy who would divide
And conquer us from within,
We say, NO!
   FREEDOM!
     BROTHERHOOD!
         DEMOCRACY!
To all the enemies of these great words:
We say, NO!

A long time ago,
An enslaved people heading toward freedom
Made up a song:
     Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
The plow plowed a new furrow
Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody,
For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow
Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
     KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!
Freedoms Cost

His eyes they told a story
Of a man who gave his soul
Not a word was ever spoken
No lies were ever told

I remember him so clearly
As all the people passed him by
He sat there on the sidewalk
With sadness in his eyes

He held a simple cardboard sign
That he wanted all to see
Hoped we could remember him
For the way he used to be

He didn't ask for money
Not for feelings of dispaire
Would fight today like he did then
For the freedom we declare

A veteran of the many wars
That allow us to stay free
With a sign that read I fought for you
Will you please now fight for me


**Poem by: Carl Joseph Roberts
Please share if you liked
Sean Kassab Jul 2012
It was in the earlier part of November, 2005 when I was called to the garrison HQ to receive an emergency Red Cross message informing me that my grandfather had passed away. I was in my third year of service as a direct contractor to the Army and my duty station was in Iraq. More specifically, I was at Tallil AFB near the city of An Nasiriyah. I was granted an emergency leave so that I could go back to the US to be with my family so I stowed my gear, packed my duffel and made the long trip home. This was the first time I would make this trip, but I’m getting ahead of myself so let me back up a bit. You see, my grandfather had served in the Second World War, actually both of them had. They were brothers. PFC Eddie Kassab, the one I’m speaking about here, had survived WWII through some pretty tough odds, including being on the third wave of the Normandy invasion at D-Day where thousands had died during the beach head assault. His brother, SFC Joseph Kassab, who married my grandmother, was killed in that war, He was a bombardier and his plane was shot down during the Guadalcanal campaign. It wasn’t until 27 years later that the wreckage of the aircraft and remains were found and recovered. When Joseph died leaving behind his young wife and new born son, Eddie began looking after her, sending home money for her and the boy, my father. They wrote back and forth to eachother after the dissappearance of Joseph and when he returned to the US after the war they courted and were eventually married. Joseph was laid to rest with the rest of his flight crew in Arlington with full military honors. Eddie, who died much later in life, was also afforded a military service there. That was my first time being in Arlington National Cemetery, a place reserved for men and women who had served their country in a military capacity. It is difficult to describe just how immense and powerful that place is, the impact you have on your life just from standing on those grounds is indescribable. If I had to try I would say it’s a mixed feeling of Honor, pride, sorrow, and a profound sense of loneliness. There are row upon row of white marble markers spanning miles of emerald green grass and broad shade trees. The markers themselves are simple, nothing fancy, but the respect they command is beyond contestation. There are also wall vaults for those who were cremated, one of these would become Eddie’s final resting place. The US Army's honor guard performed his service, while a trumpeter played “Taps” and his flag was folded and presented on behalf of a grateful nation to my father who Eddie raised as his own son. In the distance a 21 gun salute was given by seven riflemen firing three shots each. It would be the only time in my life that I saw my father cry. We took the time after Eddie’s service to walk to Joseph’s grave marker as well, passing thousands of other markers and I found myself wondering how many of these people were forgotten by the years. How many of them left behind young children. Were they killed in combat? How many of them were laid to rest with a grave full of unfulfilled dreams? The sacrifices they made weighed heavily upon me. It was a feeling I would carry with me long after I had left that place.
Years had passed and I found myself still working in Iraq for the US Army, I was stationed at Camp Taji this time, on the edge of Sadr City, a real dust bowl. I was in my eighth year of service when I was again called to Garrison HQ, another emergency Red Cross message had come through informing me that my Father had passed away. It was December 29th 2010. For hours afterward it felt as if I had been punched in the gut. I called my Mom as soon as I could to make sure she was ok and to see if there was anything she needed before making arrangements for yet another emergency leave. I again stowed my gear, packed my duffel and headed out. Now, it’s only fair to give you an idea of whom I’m talking about here, my Father, Jan, had been a Navy man and had been stationed on submarines as well as destroyer class ships during the Vietnam War. He signed up for service when he was just 18 years old and when he left the Navy he went directly into the Maitland Fire Department in central Florida and stayed there for many years. Eventually he expanded his training becoming the 80th paramedic in the state as well as a certified rescue diver and instructor. More importantly, he was a great father who raised two boys as a father should and later in life, he was a pretty good drinking buddy. His teachings and advice have helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. It was because of his prior military service that he was also awarded full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. There was a waiting list of about 8 weeks at the time because of the high volume of casualties from the wars in the Middle East so it wasn’t until February of 2011 that he was finally laid to rest. This time it was the US Navy’s honor guard who performed his service. I remember it well; they stood in their dress whites throughout the ceremony in the biting cold as the wind whipped by mercilessly.  The honor and discipline in these men was no less than awe inspiring and through my sadness I couldn’t help but feel an amazing sense of pride for who my father was during his life. We all stood as a trumpeter again played “Taps” to the folding of my Father’s flag which was presented to my Mom on behalf of a grateful nation after a 21 gun salute was ordered in the distance. My Father’s remains were also placed in a wall vault that became his final resting place; his marker being only about 20 feet from Eddie’s marker in the adjacent wall and even though it was freezing that day, we took a little extra time to visit Eddie and Joseph again. Walking the grounds of that place again awakened all the feelings I had felt the first time, probably even more so. Again, I have to tell you that words couldn’t accurately describe how that place makes you feel. The grass had turned brown by now but was still immaculately manicured, and the precision placement of the grave markers was flawless. There were thousands of names that dated all the way back to the American Civil War. I went also with my brother to pay my respects at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was an impressive mausoleum that is guarded twenty four hours a day by the US Army’s horror guard.  After it was all said and done and we had left Arlington and met as a family, my Mom, my Brother and his family, myself and my family and some close friends to remember him for a while over some food and drinks, and though nobody seemed to really have any appetite we still stayed there for hours. That was the first time in eight years that I had seen my Brother and would be the last time I saw him alive, but that part comes later. Eventually we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, each having a very long way to travel back home and I had to get ready to go back to Iraq, heavy hearted or not.
I had only been back in theater (that means deployment) for a few months when I was reassigned to Al Asad AB as my permanent duty station. It was a place in the middle of nowhere and was originally a Marine base but transferred to Army and Air Force some time in 2010. I had made some good friends there, settled in and finally started coming back to myself when I received a message from my brother’s wife asking me to call her, said it was important. Thinking back on it now, I remember feeling a little angry that she wouldn’t tell me on email. Internet I had in my room, but a phone…well I’m no general and I had already settled in for the night. It was about 21:30 hrs. (9:30 p.m.) on a night in late July so I got dressed and made the quarter mile walk to my office where I could use the phone, cursing under my breath the whole time. It took me about 20 minutes just to find my phone card in my cluttered desk drawer, but when  I finally did amongst more unsavory mutterings I made the call. She answered quickly enough but her voice sounded strained so I calmed down and asked her what was going on, I figured something wasn’t right so she didn’t need me jumping her case on top of it. It was then that she told me my Brother’s body had been found in his home in Whiteville NC. He had been having a hard time with depression since our Father passed as well as marital problems and he had made the decision to take his own life at the age of 36 leaving behind his Wife, Stepson and Daughter who was only 5 at the time. I was blindsided to say the least, no one saw this coming, and he left no real reason as to why so there still is no closure, no understanding. I was angry… no, I was furious! But I’m getting ahead of myself again. She had called me not only to inform me of what had happened, but also to ask if I had Mom’s phone number because she didn’t have it and didn’t know how to get in touch with her to tell her. I told her not to worry about it and that I’d take that on my shoulders and get back to her. It had only been five months since we laid our Father to rest and to say I dreaded making that phone call was a ridiculous understatement. It was easily one of the toughest things I ever had to do, but it had to be done all the same so I dug Mom’s number out of my wallet…and stared at it…I don’t know how long but it felt like a long time. What else could I do? What could I say? It’s not like I had an instruction booklet for delivering bad news and this was as bad as it gets. After a few deep breaths I dialed her number and decided to take the direct approach. She answered the phone and we exchanged hellos, and I asked her what she was doing. She was out shopping with Robbie at the Tractor Supply Co. He was a longtime family friend and all around good guy. I told her that I had some pretty bad news and asked if she could find a place to sit down there, but she told me it was ok to just tell her what happened so I did exactly that. I gave her all the information I had at the time, I didn’t know how to sugar coat it so I didn’t. She took it pretty well up front, not breaking down until later that evening. My Brother, SPC Troy Kassab, had enlisted in the US Army with our Father’s permission when he was only 17 years old. He was a combat medic assigned to Ft. Carson in Colorado before transferring to the 82nd Airborne Division in Ft Brag NC. He deployed to Cuba among other deployments overseas before being attached to a Ranger Unit as their medic and doing other deployments that he never would talk about much. After the army he lived in NC where he worked in restaurants while attending school on the G.I bill and volunteering on the Hickory Rescue Squad as an EMT. He eventually completed school in Winston Salem NC where he got his PA degree in general practice. Troy was a self-educated, brilliant man who wasn’t perfect but who is? He saved lives in the Army, and then continued to do so in the civilian world until his death in July of 2011. He was a husband and a father, a brother and a friend. He was important to us. It was because of his past in the Army that he also was awarded full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. This time the wait was much longer and his funeral wasn’t held until November 15th of 2011. I remember that day and the days leading up to it like it was yesterday. I had ended my deployment in Iraq on November 3rd, making it back to the US on November 6th. From the time of his death I had stayed in contact with Mom and his wife Andi to make sure they were ok and help in any way I could with the affairs and expenses. When I finally did get home I pulled my truck out of storage had it inspected, fueled and ready to go. It was unfortunate, but my wife was in college and had work at the time so she couldn’t come with us so my daughter and I made the long trip from Houston TX to Hickory NC to see Troy’s wife and kids. While I was there I also picked up a close family friend of ours who needed a ride and made the long drive to Arlington VA...again. The US Army’s honor guard met us there to perform his service and again the attention to detail, the respect given to the deceased, and the discipline shown was flawless. There were more friends this time than family in attendance but I was there with Mom, Robbie, my daughter, and some very close family friends, some going all the way back to our childhood. The ceremony was the same, every time the same. I remember thinking I hated the way “Taps” sounded as they folded the flag and I was angry and hurt when I stepped forward to claim my Brother’s remains and walk them to the wall vault that would become his final resting place. I have to say though, that through my grief and anger, I was a little bit pleased to see that he was placed so close to my Father and Grandfather. I left a pair of my own dog tags in his vault, it made me feel better that he wouldn’t be alone in there. I guess it doesn’t make a lot of sense now but at the time it did.  I stood over his marker and said a silent prayer before heading out to see Dad, Eddie and Joe’s markers and pay some respects. The grass was that brilliant emerald green again, and the sense that I stood in a place of honor reserved for our nations fallen still struck me through the heart.  After that we just kind of faded away from that place making our way home. Troy’s wife Andi had decided not to come, she was angry, she felt betrayed and abandoned, so on my way home I stopped back in Hickory NC, dropped off Michelle and made the drive to Andi’s house to present her with Troy’s flag as it had been presented to me. I remember hoping that her decision wouldn’t leave her with later regrets, but it was too late to change it now. The drive home was a long one, one that rekindled so many unanswered questions. Three generations of my family laid to rest leaving me as the only surviving male member of my family; something that still weighs upon my heart today.
But this is their story, and though it seems a sad one, that is not its intent. This story was written so that you the reader could understand that there is a place where over a hundred thousand Josephs and Eddies, and Jans and Troys are resting.  Each one of those stone crosses and stars have a face, a name, a history, and they made a sacrifice for you and for me. They were people who gave up their futures so that we could have one. They were people who had dreams, families, and who put all of that aside for what they believed in. They weren’t perfect people, but they deserve to be remembered. If you do nothing else after reading this, at least take the time to think about the freedoms that you have, freedoms that have cost us so much…
There are those who came before us, who paved the way for the lives we now live, their voices whisper to us through our freedoms and we are a greatful nation. Listen and remember...
Alan W Jankowski Dec 2011
Let the world always remember,
That fateful day in September,
And the ones who answered duty's call,
Should be remembered by us all.

Who left the comfort of their home,
To face perils as yet unknown,
An embodiment of goodness on a day,
When men's hearts had gone astray.

Sons and daughters like me and you,
Who never questioned what they had to do,
Who by example, were a source of hope,
And strength to others who could not cope.

Heroes that would not turn their back,
With determination that would not crack,
Who bound together in their ranks,
And asking not a word of thanks.

Men who bravely gave their lives,
Whose orphaned kids and widowed wives,
Can proudly look back on their dad,
Who gave this country all they had.

Actions taken without regret,
Heroisms we shall never forget,
The ones who paid the ultimate price,
Let's never forget their sacrifice.

And never forget the ones no longer here,
Who fought for the freedoms we all hold dear,
And may their memory never wane,
Lest their sacrifices be in vain.

09-30-10b.
There is now a video interview with me talking about this poem, filmed Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 in front of City Hall, here in South Amboy, N.J...it posted along with my poem, on various Gannett news sites on the East Coast on Sept. 11...
http://www.mycentraljersey.com/videos/life/2014/07/25/13185429/

Oh, could say a few things about this one...it's been in print at least 15 times that I'm aware of, and probably far more...and was used in more 9/11 ceremonies this past tenth anniversary than I will ever know...the stuff with the school kids, scout troupes and the like is always touching...made a list actually of some places it appeared...
http://www.storiesspace.com/forum/yaf_postst538_My-911-Tribute-poem-has-been-in-print-at-least-fourteen-times-in-2011.aspx
Yeah, this one got pretty big...and it's only the first year...

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