My son's reflections from Facebook on invading Baghdad with his fellow Marines.
Forgetting, Remembering, Hoping.
By Taggart Giles
... I have a horrible memory. I forget birthdays, names, places, work stuff, and pretty much everything else. Writing things down helps, but then I forget that I wrote it down. However, I won't, or better yet can't, forget ANYTHING from April 8, 2003.
I can't forget the sounds. I can’t forget the smells. I can’t forget the sweat, the blood, the fear, the hate, the pile of spent ammo casings, the cars racing toward me trying to end my life. I can't forget what it feels like to shoot at someone, or to be shot at. I can’t forget knowing that I would happily take a bullet for one or all of my brothers, and knowing that they would do the same. I can't forget what an RPG looks like flying past my head, or the relief I felt when it missed. I can't forget wondering who was going to make it out alive and who we would have to mourn over. I can't forget running out of food or water or ammo. I can't forget thinking that this was only one day, and wondering how many days were going to be like this. I can't forget the bullets impacting the cement just a few feet in front of us, hitting the seemingly invisible barrier and unable to penetrate. I can’t forget the memories of April 8, 2003.
I can't forget the love I had for my brothers; the heroes to my right and to my left; the clear mind; the adrenalin racing through my body. I can't forget how I had remembered every bit of training from the previous 6 years, or that EVERY other Marine did as well. I can't forget the pride I felt seeing my fireteam perform flawlessly under the worst conditions imaginable. I can't forget looking into the souls of every Marine of Fox Company, and understanding why it looked like we all just aged 10 years almost instantly.
9 years it's been; and somehow my memories become more vivid every day, like a movie you've seen thousands of times, being able to recite the lines and predict the next sequence of events as it plays on. I remember the flight home to the U.S.A. I remember coming home to a foreign land; one with strange sights and sounds and people; a place where I felt like a stranger. I remember wanting to leave this place and go back with my brothers, where I could carry my loaded rifle with me, and sleep on the floor of vacant buildings, and not worry about school, work, friends, bills, politics, religion......life.
I remember my brothers. I remember the pain that they went through and continue to go through, though the bullets have stopped. I remember reading about them in the paper and seeing them on TV. I remember each of us going our separate way; getting new jobs, graduating from school, getting married; getting divorced; getting arrested. I remember moving away and losing contact with most of them. I remember craving their friendship, their companionship, their understanding. I remember the pain that I feel knowing that my brothers are suffering silently, and that I would give anything for the pain they feel to go away.
I hope that the changes I have gone through since April 8, 2012 are not permanent, and I will someday fade back to the old Taggart…someday. I hope my brothers can find peace in this life. I hope this movie stops playing someday, and I forget the words. I hope that we can all stay in touch. I hope my brothers can come to me for support, and that I will go to them. I hope that this is a priority for us. I hope that, though we are taking different paths through life, that they will remember me, and I will remember them. I hope we don’t lose another brother. I hope that we can be forgiven for our actions on April 8, 2003. I hope that we stop feeling guilty. I hope we can be happy. I hope we can forget. I hope we never forget.