Published on Sunday, October 10, 2004 by the Long Island, NY Newsday
Insane Reality Spins the Head
by Jimmy Breslin
I am looking at a portrait of absolute national insanity yesterday morning. We are in Fort Totten in Bayside, in Queens, but it is a symbol of what is going on in this country, and what this country is causing in the world.
The president is a dumb guy who gets people killed. He and his people forget he lost the last election and had it stolen for him. If you could see through his endless rapid blinking on Friday night, he seemed to show that he is not completely sane. He has a religious belief in his lies. In the Friday night debate, George Bush, who lied America into war, did say one truthful thing: "This is going to be a long, long war."
There are five buses parked yesterday at the curb in front of a two-story brick building of the 'th Quartermasters Company, an Army Reserves unit. They are going to Iraq.
Standing at the buses are families all crying openly. A grandmother cries. Next to her, a daughter cries. Clinging to them are little children, bewildered and weeping. A man with a wet face has a sleeping baby on his shoulder. On these buses, a parent - the old rules shattered, 55 of them being women - shipping out of here for Iraq. A woman with centuries of Central America on her face says the only man in her house is the young man on the bus.
Lanise LaPorte, 25, is walking with her boyfriend: She is dark, and as small as you get.
"We're going to war, man, that's where we're going."
How do you like it? How do you like listening to George Bush at night and then coming here in the street by the war buses with little Lanise LaPorte in uniform and going to the real war?
You keep reading and hearing about "undecided voters." Anybody who is undecided at this time doesn't have much of a mind to make up.
And here is Ashley Abraham, age 6, with her back to me. Brown hair is down her back. She is at the open door to the steps going up to a bus. Ashley is reaching up with a can of iced tea for her mother, Darlin, who is in Army camouflage, a sergeant, at the top of the steps, by the driver. The mother holds a long rose. She has a round face that is busy keeping up with Ashley, with the brother and sister and with the husband. She is the mother of three going away on this bus to Iraq.
Ashley keeps holding the can up to the mother. As my eyes follow the extended arm, I lose balance. Somewhere, in another universe, people argue about the proper program for Iraq and the progress being made, and when you hear these words from the night before in your ear now, everything everywhere suddenly becomes shrieking people in padded rooms. Of course your head spins. You're lucky you don't go on your face.
Behind me, people cry. In front of me is a mother with a rose and a family on her hands and the mother says, "Thank you, dear" to Ashley and then says to the older sister, who is standing a few feet away, "Don't give him a bad time now," meaning a brother who is nearby. "I love you." She looks at her husband.
She takes the iced tea for a moment. A sip and she hands it back to Ashley, who then steps away as the door closes, and she holds the iced tea to her mouth with one hand and waves with the other to her mother, the mother of three, who is going off to war.
Her president says she is going to spread freedom to the Middle East. Liberty to Muslims on the sands of Iraq.
"My granddaughter. Tomica Hardy. She's on the bus already," Anna Hardy was saying. She is 59 and comes from Jamaica.
The soldier's mother, Patricia Pouncy, 36, was with her.
"Young children don't know what they're fighting for," the grandmother said. "We're hopin' she don't fight. I tell you."
A hiss, and the buses pull away and into the gray cool morning.
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