Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
This Letter Expresses How Eternal Love Survives Everything, Even War
Editor’s Note: Task & Purpose is proud to publish this fictional essay by Karin Lowachee — the 3rd place submission of a writing contest presented by the Armed Services Arts Partnership and the Atlantic Council’s The Art of the Future Project. The contest sought letters home from a conflict set in the 2030s as part of a first-person exploration of what homecoming might be like after future wars.
I know you tried. You didn’t want me to leave the second time, you couldn’t understand why I’d come back to this war. I have no explanation that would ever make sense to you when it barely makes sense to me. You’re my peace and I couldn’t live in it.
Let me tell the story this time. They can’t censor these thoughts. You shouldn’t want to hear about battles. There’s nothing to tell about losing lives to the rocks. Humankind has always fought over one resource or another – land, slaves, religion, fuel. The things we believe will source our souls. This isn’t a story about the Moon.
I’ll warn you right now, though: since you’re listening to this, it means you won’t like the ending. But just remember – we’ve told each other a hundred stories and somehow we keep coming back to the start. Going as far into space as I did, eventually you return to the birth of things. You remember how we looked into the night sky and said all those clichés? The universe reveals our pasts. It unfolds our origins. When you look up at the stars you see our beginning. When I look toward Earth I see our future. So maybe there is no “the end.”
So our story goes. That day you let me ride one of your bikes and I brought it down at the side of the road. All of the anger in your eyes and I could only find it funny. The rev of those engines couldn’t drown out my heart. I could’ve said I wasn’t afraid of injury, that over time because of the war I was being replaced anyway. Did you see it then?
The way my hands curled on the bars, my fingertips the trigger to detonate grenades and all I wanted to do was run them along your skin. Could you find it in my eyes? The kilometers ahead where the ships were launching back to the stars and I could read their registry numbers on their hulls. These splices, replacements, and enhancements of me – the soldier you’d met in the snow. The way I didn’t feel the cold because space had limned my edges already in ice. Did you identify all the parts of me that you could possibly put back together? You with your mechanic’s touch.
Play this game with me, the one you invented that flays back the truth. Confirm or deny. It’s possible to love and not understand. It’s possible to love over distance and not waver from the absence. But there are giants out here, expanses and entities so vast that love could be dwarfed – love would succumb to the spinning yank of gravity until it became anchored to some alien world. We might forget our language over time. They say nothing could survive the wait, that evolution would inevitably change the species of our emotions. That this war that infiltrates between us and moves through the vacuum would set a sun toward supernova. Nothing could live in the reach of such an explosion. Love would disintegrate.
But destruction isn’t always absolute.
The Japanese have a word: kintsugi. The art of recognizing the beauty in broken things. The philosophy of restoration. The physical appearance of things is so deceiving when the importance lies with the way you look at me. You set the gold between my jagged edges, between you and me, and bring them together. There might be a rundown roadway of stars with the emptiness of cracks making spider web shapes out of solar systems, but we can fix it. There doesn’t have to be so much emphasis on destruction when the joining is what ultimately matters. I can come back to you somehow. This breakage and repair is our history, and the history of my service. There is still value in a thing that might be damaged and flawed. The violence of the universe’s first breath brought us life.
All of my wars have created shards of me but you took the broken parts and made them whole again.
These are things I could never say to you in life. So now we’ve come to the part where you’re angry, because why couldn’t I write to you in the middle of it? Just know that whatever has happened, we might still see each other. They’ve put me back together so many times, so why not now? Tell them I want you there, show them this letter. Tell them if anything needs to be engineered, you are my expert. Nobody knows my hands like you do.
Nobody else has repaired my heart.
Tell me you’re sorry when I wake up, and I’ll do the same.
Yours – always,
Karin Lowachee was born in South America, grew up in Canada, and worked in the Arctic. Her first novel WARCHILD won the 2001 Warner Aspect First Novel Contest. Both WARCHILD and her third novel CAGEBIRD were finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award. CAGEBIRD won the Prix Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English and the Spectrum Award. Her books have been translated into French, Hebrew, and Japanese, and her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and online magazines. Her fourth novel was published through Orbit Books USA.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.