Photo by Staff Sgt. Luisito Brooks

My grandfather served in the Pacific during World War II and died three months before I shipped to Iraq. I can’t say I knew him well and that saddens me. He was a man of few words and so it was startling when he came up to me at a family event after finding out I was being deployed, grabbed me by the shoulders and just stared at me. He had tears in his eyes and didn’t say a word. At first I thought it was just an emotional goodbye and I half expected him to give me advice or impart some piece of battle-hardened wisdom, a moral nugget to take with me into the desert. But he just stood there in silence. He had been critical of the war in Iraq while I had been a supporter. I wouldn’t realize until later that it was the absence of his words that was most profound. In fact, it is language and the use of certain rhetoric that has left my generation isolated, inhibiting our ability to reintegrate, and impeding us from understanding our wars in any meaningful way.

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