FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

With These Arms …

by MISSY BEATTIE

I hated not having arms. I was all right with not having legs. Not having arms takes so much away from you. Even your personality. You talk with your hands. You do everything with your hands, basically. And when you don’t have that you’re kind of lost for a while.

~~Sgt. Brendan Marrocco

Twenty-six-year-old Brendan Marrocco is a veteran who left all four limbs in Iraq. On December 18, 2012, in a 13-hour operation, he received two new arms, not prosthetic arms, but two human arms, from a deceased donor.

I lay in bed unable to fall asleep, imaging Marrocco, not just as he is now, what he is now, but also when he returned stateside, his body, the way he felt, wondering about the way his parents felt. The way I would feel if he were my child. “Not having arms takes so much away from you. Even your personality.” These sentences interlaced my thoughts.

Did his mother and father say, “He lost four limbs doing what he loved?”

Or did they scream, as I would, “He lost four limbs supporting what the military security complex loves? Really, would I say this? How could I know?

I had been reading articles about unmanned aerial vehicles earlier, one detailing the formal inquiry into US droning. Usually, I scroll through the comment sections, as if I’m taking a pulse, conducting a survey. Here’s one opinion, the judgment most likely of an American who supports his/her country’s exceptionalism: “I would rather inadvertently kill children via drone strikes than risk one American soldier’s life trying to kill terrorists in the UN-approved way.”

So, I tossed. Turned. Plumped my pillows. And personalized, wondering about my sons. What if one wanted to join the military? Would I hope he’d work from a cubicle, thousands of miles from the physical danger of roadside bombs, like the improvised explosive device (IED) that ripped off the limbs of US Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco? Want my son to control a joystick—instead of deploying overseas?

The selfish Me said yes. The better me reconsidered. Maiming. Marrocco. Safety. Drones. My children. Your children. All children.

I imagined my child as drone operator. Far from injury.

Yet close to inflicting it.

What if he called a strike that vaporized a child?

What if he committed this murder repeatedly?

At least he wouldn’t be maimed or killed by an IED.

But what would he BE? What would he become?  “… kind of lost for a while”? Forever? Psychically distorted?

At peace rallies, I’ve heard parents speak about their sons who’ve returned from war altered forever by what they’ve done, what they’ve seen.

Staring into the eyes of the “enemy” before slaughtering him.

Blowing up cars, families, children. Witnessing the death of children.

Participating in the crime of war. Watching their buddies explode in rage or apart.

Brendan Marrocco lost more than four limbs to an IED. He also lost his personality. His words imply that new hands, the gift of gesture, restore that loss.

Now, right now, I look at my hands. I feel the keyboard. I reach out and then back to place a hand on my chest, my heart. But I also see the hand that curls around the remote to vaporize a wedding party.

I consider the Socratic dialogues, specifically, whether it is better to suffer and injustice or commit an injustice.

I think too about families in the countries we terrorize, in the countries we drone—human beings who love their children just as much as I love mine. As much as you love yours.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail