Facebook friend Vicki posted this. It reminds me of a short story by George Saunders, a writer I greatly admire–‘Home’, published in the New Yorker 6/13/2011. The protagonist, a returning veteran, has arrived home just in time to see his mother evicted…
Ma was on the front lawn screaming at this low-slung fat guy. Harris was looming in the background, now and then hitting or kicking something to show how scary he could get when he was enraged.
“This is my son,” Ma said, “who served. Who just came home. And this is how you do us?”
“I’m grateful for your service.” the man said to me.
If you know George Saunders, you will know that he writes not tragedy, but the darkest comedy. Mikey, the narrator in this story has returned to a fractured family, a society with a huge wealth disparity and a sense of suppressed fear– you might be the next poor loser to fall out of the middle-class. And everyone who screws him over says “thank you for your service.” George Saunders is a surrealist.
I wish I could link to this, but due to his not having a day job, Saunders is not giving it away for free, and neither is the New Yorker. Here’s where it is, if you’re not a cheapskate.
If you are a liberal, like me, and recognize there are many ways of serving our country besides the military, you will put a high priority on services to veterans. Veterans are on the front lines in peace as well as in war. The VA provides comprehensive medical care across class lines and generations, but housing, jobs and community are unmet needs. Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is way of life built on courage, cooperation and sacrifice. Our veterans can teach us some things about that.