Bugle Calls and Mill Whistles (Too Much of One, Not enough of the Other) – A View of War from America’s Main Street

By JL Strickland

I’m fed up with politics.  I think I’ll get back to concentrating on fiction. There’s more truth to be found there.

I witnessed something a while back that should have been a wake up call for me.  I went to Brandon Hadaway’s funeral. Brandon, a big, smiling, happy kid,  grew up in Fairfax; I worked with his father and grandfather in the mill, until it closed.  Brandon also worked in the mill part time in high school. He joined the Army when he graduated.

Like far too many other fine young Americans, Brandon was killed in Bush’s war.  Brandon died for Dubya’s sins.  Everyone who knew Brandon felt the pain of his death.

They buried Brandon at the old community cemetery between Fairfax and Riverview, across from the closed and shuttered Fairview Mill.

I was standing near the graveside during the funeral service, and I could see Brandon’s coffin and his father and grandfather seated before it.  And beyond them, the closed mill across the road.  It suddenly struck me that Brandon was expendable.  He had made the ultimate sacrifice, but he would soon be forgotten, except for those few who loved him.

The people who caused his death didn’t give him a second thought. Indeed, they didn’t even want his coffin photographed when it was unloaded at Andrews Air Force Base.  The grandfather spoke at Brandon’s funeral.  He thanked the honor guard for bringing Brandon home, but he told them flatly that he hated their war, and thought it was foolish, and not worth sacrificing his grandson’s life or anyone else’s.  His rage was controlled, but righteous and heartfelt — an old man hitting back the only way he knew how.

In the grand scheme of things, Mr. Hadaway’s comments were honest and understandable, but for naught. Nobody really cared about his opinion. At least, nobody with the power to stop young people being killed for nothing but a stupid politician’s monumental ego.

Likewise, Brandon’s  father and grandfather were expendable.  They followed the rules and the system had sent their jobs overseas and left them in the lurch, to fend for themselves.  They were expendable, too.  No one cared that their lives had been wrecked, their hopes and plans destroyed.  They were all three, son, father and grandfather,  refugees from the American Dream; stunned wanderers in a world they never made.  And their government didn’t seem to care.  No one did.

Brandon was in the coffin, but all three of them were casualties.

And so were most of the rest of those at that sad gathering of mostly mill hands expendable.  I don’t think I was reading more into the situation than was actually there.  Ever since that day, I get the same feeling when I read the paper, or see the news reports;  Or, I drive by a silent mill.  It looks like we are having a funeral for the country.  Something seems to be lost forever.  We seem to be eternally standing at a grave.

I’ve always thought there was nothing more pathetic than a morbid, cynical old person.  But, since I’m in that category myself now, I honestly don’t see any reason not to feel that way.  And plenty of reasons why I should.

But, I’ve always felt that people were about as happy as they made up their minds to be; and I’ve made up my mind to be happy in spite of what the world does.  I’m thinking about starting a Kiss My Ass Party, the KMAP.

While I’ve always heard that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,  I’m not so sure that’s the best response.  Maybe it would be better if you can’t beat ’em, to tell them to kiss your ass, which will be the guiding principle of the KMAP.

Ask yourself this: Wouldn’t you feel better if you could tell John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck,  Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and now Barack Obama,  and many other idiots, not only politicians,  to kiss your ass?  Sure you would.

Anybody wanna join?  It will be a small, but select group.  K-MAPs forever!

JL Strickland involuntarily retired when the cotton mill where four generations of his family worked closed and his job was sent to Pakistan, with the government’s blessing.

He is a freelance writer from Alabama.

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4 Responses to Bugle Calls and Mill Whistles (Too Much of One, Not enough of the Other) – A View of War from America’s Main Street

  1. Mrs Q says:

    Mr Strickland, understand your sentiments – believe me! I live in Indiana, the Republican state run by a Republican legislature with bad apple Democrats who dare to not vote against unions, having moved from Boehner/Turner territory in Ohio (where there is widespread unemployment/foreclosure which no one mentions in the MSM – they shipped some jobs to India, by the way, giving tax breaks to the companies that did so). But they’re much meaner than you suspect – one can get on a blacklist of sorts for just writing letters against their practices. One can ruin one’s prospects of ever being re-employed – I’d know. The attitude in their area is, “we know they’re like that, we know they’re wrong, but what can we do? We’ll lose money if we stand against them.” This is what Left-leaning liberals in the Dayton area used to say to me … as for upper-income New York liberals, what they say is, “that was then, this is now,” if you compare today with Steinbeck’s era – in other words, this economic restructuring is unavoidable and deserved, unlike that other terrible one of the 1930’s …

  2. charlie keil says:

    I really want J.L. Strickland, and anyone else coming to this website, to hook up with the Truth&Traditions Party. We’re just getting started and will keep at it thru 2012.
    “Brandon died for Dubya’s sins.” That sums it up. And you can create the same sentence, e.g. “Amed died for Kadafi’s sins.” “So many anonymous Kurds died for Saddam’s sins.” Thousands of people dying to sooth the feelings of one “leader” or another. And the leaders almost always go unpunished. The new International Criminal Court has yet to apprehend or stop one mass murdering head of state at the moment when it would matter most.
    For the many good messages contained in the book ComehomeAmerica.us to spread far and wide, we need a peace party that is dedicated to truth, traditions and transition to a sustainable economics of fair exchanges. Please help this process along with a little time and effort each day at the very local (TransitionUs), county and state levels while limiting the powers to destroy us (humans and many other species) at the federal level.

  3. bahmi says:

    Recently, I wrote a letter to a local paper that asked the question that must be asked of all papers. Do you feel your paper should seek balance in its articles? Do you think one sided writing is fair to Americans or is it devious? I got a pathetic email from the editor. He said the paper “bought” news from two agencies, but did not address the idea of balance at all. Balance means nothing to this editor, his mind is made up, Obama is the king and any other opinion will not be considered. This paper must be attacked for its pathetic lack of balance and careless attitude whether or not it gives its readers the truth or the “stuff they buy”. I am not through with this paper or its editor. I’ll be back, Mr. Editor, and I won’t be bringing you a gift next time, either.

  4. MrQ says:

    Wow. You, sir, are the epitome of our entitlement society. You think you DESERVE your job, you blame people who haven’t had control of the U.S. government for over 4 years, and you think you and your ilk are victims of everyone else’s decisions. I’m terribly sorry for Brandon’s passing, but I’m relatively sure he wasn’t drafted (and you’re exploiting him). I feel pain for his family, but blaming others for his sacrifice will heal no wounds. President Bush’s “sins” have no part in your argument; cast the first stone, sir, if you are without sin.

    Oh, and isn’t it funny how only conservatives are “idiots” in your mind; I contend that telling Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann to “KMA” would bring many more people comfort. In the meantime, continue on your rant. In fact, mark the spot to focus me because, frankly, you’re all ass.

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