It wasn’t until we reached the summit of Mount Baker on the 7th that thoughts of 9/11 came rushing back. Saturday afternoon, threat of rain, and there I was finally at the top of this small Adirondacks peak on the northeast corner of Saranac Lake. Huffing and puffing, I’ll admit to that.
There is a sweeping vista to the south from a gray-rock ledge, and I tarried there for a few minutes to look down on the lakes and the miles and miles of forested hills of the Adirondacks before going on up to the top which is closed in by trees. It was beautiful, and I was lucky to be there.
It was there, near the very top that I caught sight of it.
I saw the American flag first. It was tied to the bottom of a small pine. Then beneath it I saw the rest of it, a photo and a plastic card that read “Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider, Jan 8, 1988, June 30, 2011.” A nice-looking kid. I think it safe to say that it was a memorial to a fallen soldier. He was only 23, about the same age my grandson died, a victim of the war in Iraq.
Schneider, I read later, was a Marine. He was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, by an IED, an improvised explosive device. He was from Phoenix, northwest of Syracuse and had a girlfriend who lived in Texas. A big parade was held in his honor at nearby Baldwinsville.
These little memorials say much more to me than big ones for they are more personal, more heart-felt. Someone, a loved one no doubt, had an idea, took time to take a long road trip to Adirondak Park, pick a mountain, then climb up the rugged trail on the west to place the memorial there. It may not last as long as granite, but it was more powerful.
Seeing it, the anger swept over me again. Iraq, the unnecessary war created by the conniving Bush administration. WMD, my aching tuts. The war was not about 9/11. It was tragically about neo-con ideology, oil and empire.
I don’t blame George W. Bush so much. He was just a token President that the Republicans routinely toss into the ring. Like Reagan. A handsome face that will attract thoughtless votes so the real “brains,” the devils behind the throne, can latch onto power. Bush was only a puppet to the Vice President, Dick Cheney, the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and the heartless mind of advisor Karl Rove. There were others. They are war criminals, no less. So many soldiers, so many Iraqi civilians killed and maimed. And for what?
From what I read Corporal Schneider wanted to be a Marine. No one dragged him to war. Still, I am glad someone put his memorial where I could find it that afternoon. I never want to forget what an atrocity Iraq was, and its continuing aftermath.