Thomas Jefferson, make up your mind

“We will be soldiers, so our sons may be farmers, so their sons may be artists.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

— Thomas Jefferson

*

As beautiful as the former quote is, and as much as I’d like to believe it — the latter quote rings a more sober, unflinching note. Frontline‘s “The Wounded Platoon” investigates soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a quiet, empathetic, and respectful way, with a welcomed void of political commentary about the Iraq war. I was watching it on TV last night, crashed out on the futon (my attempt at “cold turkey” gone tepid via some Hennessey that my wife got for flambĂ©), as the cat kneaded my crotch. Until they start drafting near-sighted Canadians with high blood-pressure and carpal tunnel, I’m safe from war. I used to be an artist, and never did I think to thank a soldier for securing such liberty and peace-time; my arrogance was only tempered with some modernist myth about a humble Van Gogh. The soldiers, under the spell of both psychiatric and street drugs, met up three years later at a grave site of a fallen Sargent. They followed one of them as he rode across America — the sadness of a flat open road occasionally punctuated by the sadness of the reoccurring fat waitress, in some state the shape of a box bled red with desperation. At the grave, the wife cried, and thanked them all for coming, her “all” cloaked in a southern y’all, her unwiped tears half-dried on her face. When I was more arrogant, I used to make fun of people who said y’all. I used to spout off about politics with some liberal mag folded in my back pocket. Now I just cry at the TV.