War

Monique Hassan is a Signal Corp veteran of the United States Army out of North Carolina. She is also a writer who specializes in Islamic/spiritual psychology and a patient advocate in behavioral health. Cult of Americana invited Monique to give her unique perspective on service, in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Some soldiers want to go to war, it is what they live for and they train hard. I remember an overly eager soldier telling me “don’t kill one before I do” as if he wanted to take a life. I could never understand that mentality. Others are terrified, but they must do their duty.

Soldiers are deployed for a year, an entire year away from their children and their families. The soldiers often live in stressful and chaotic situations, while the family wakes up everyday hoping they don’t get a bad phone call or knock on the door. They just never know if their soldier will make it back home or not. They have to show strength and support when they get the chance to do a phone call, but inside their hearts are breaking and they are lonely. Divorce rates are high in the military and they all know it. Not every family can handle the constant loneliness from field time, deployments, and late hours.

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Upstairs

In my grandparents’ backyard in Syracuse, NY stood the small red playhouse my grandfather had built for my mother and her sister when they were children. Tin cups and plates were strewn in a box in the “kitchen” where my siblings and I spent hours pretending to cook or eat or chat like our parents. But as much fun as we had in the kitchen, the coveted spot in the playhouse was its attic, the upstairs that you could only get in by climbing a ladder from the ground floor. There was just one rule: you couldn’t go up until you were five years old. Being the youngest of four children, I waited with anticipation for my fifth birthday so I could finally look out the attic window, roughly level with my grandfather’s head.

The first time we visited my grandparents after I turned five, I don’t even know if I went into the big house first, or if I just ran into the backyard, through the little white door, up the ladder and onto the rough wooden floor of the attic. There was barely room to sit. The low ceiling had nails still sticking through, and the small window let in just enough light for me to see how dusty it was. And yet, all I really remember was the feeling of exhilaration of finally being Up There.

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