"No one talks about what happens to the people nothing happens to"

August 18, 2011

Via Rose Berger,
the summer issue of Portland magazine
includes an essay by Portland editor
and Century contributor Brian Doyle,
in which he quotes at length a conversation with a young U.S. war veteran named
Jackie. She paints a striking picture:

After
a while I forgot everyone's names. For a while I called people by their numbers
but after a while I didn't call them anything. That's when I knew I had war
sickness, big time. I never got hit by fire but pretty much everyone I knew
did. For a while there I thought it was me, that as soon as I said hello to
someone or shook hands or learned their names they were doomed, so I stopped
touching people and learning names. You would think wigging out in the middle
of a war would be bad but it's just normal, No one talks about what happens to
the people nothing happens to, but something happens to them, and no one talks
about it. Probably because we don't have any words for what happens. Wars kill
words, but no one talks about that. Wars kill everything except more wars.

Read more of Jackie's
account, as previously published in Commonweal,
here.