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How do we come home?

I boarded the train as I did everyday. 7:30 a.m. Northbound on the J from Gates Avenue to Canal Street. The train limped along its tracks ultimately stopping short of the Manhattan Bridge. The voice came over the loudspeaker warning us that do to some “unidentified activity” we were going to have to stop until the line was cleared. We all sat there nervously flicking through our dailies, playing Solitaire on our phones and using feigned conversation to mask our nervousness. I thought back to 9/11 when the trains stopped moving and we were held across the water suspended on the elevated tracks just in time to see our city being burned down building by building. And at that moment I realized that even in places of relative peace, we live in a time of war. I think we’re all aware of the shameful treatment our Vietnam War veterans experienced when they returned home. To compound that cruelty, their returns were often abrupt and unceremonious. Movies like “Born On the Fourth of July” and “The Deer Hunter” show us through cinema the difficulty of returning to what was once home. And now as our President dispatches thousands more troops to the middle East we are faced with the notion of welcoming home soldiers from a war conveniently beamed to most of us through satellite images and represented by AP photos. Perhaps what I’m wondering most is, as a country that is currently at war, how do our veterans rejoin the life waiting for them back home? How do they rejoin the tribe once they’ve been to bedlam? How do we help them so that they don’t feel like museum pieces; encased in glass and gawked at by many? GO!

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