Patriot Son: A Fantasy
The plane was in its final descent and silently he thought, “thank God. “ Finally, some peace. Then it happened. As the plane taxied to the gate for the passengers to disembark, a flight attendant announced over the plane’s intercom: “Well, folks, we have Marine Sergeant Michael James on board. He is home from Iraq and I think we should give him a warm welcome home.” With that, all the passengers stood and applauded.
To his surprise, he felt his anger beginning to rise, even promising to turn into rage. Maybe it was the Jack Daniels. Maybe he was just drained and wanted to get away. To get away from all these people. He really didn’t know why but he knew he should go and go quickly. As he stood and turned toward the passengers, without really seeing any one of them, he could not stop himself from saying:
“What are you applauding for?” There was silence, a stillness that comes from shock. “I mean it: What are you applauding for?” More silence. He couldn’t stand it.
“I have come home to bury my best buddy whose casket is in the belly of this plane. Are you applauding for him? Well, he is dead and he cannot hear you.” More silence.
“Are you applauding me? For what? For the killing I had to do? For the women, children, and old men I had to kill? It happened you know. It had to happen. I had no choice. “ More silence and a little something else beginning to develop among the passengers. Annoyance? Anger? Was he raining on their parade?
“If you applauding me, then I must say you are surer of what I did than I am. I don’t applaud what I did there and wished every day I was there that I was somewhere else, almost anywhere else doing almost anything else.” More silence and even some outward signs of unrest. It was becoming awkward. How could they understand? He had to get away. But still he said:
“You know, you should be crying. You should be crying for my buddy and his family. You should be crying for me, a Marine who killed the innocent. You should be crying for those who were innocent but are now dead or maimed. But most of all you should be crying for yourselves and your country. Because, well,” he said, pausing and knowing they could not understand. “Just because.”
And with that Marine Sergeant Michael James left the plane to seek the peace he hungered for more than anything else.