A reader just finished listening to my conversation with two-time Iraq vet Mikey Piro (available here for subscribers):
Oh man, the way he described his friends being killed, and how it’s clearly still affecting him emotionally, was pretty startling. It sorta revealed how much I previously viewed soldiers as almost mechanical. I never conceived of them expressing that kind of emotion. I honestly wondered whether you were experiencing technical difficulties or what else could be causing the silence. Then I realized he was crying. I definitely cried once myself.
That detail about the Abrams tank’s soft underbelly and how the bomb would’ve ripped through that and – hopefully, he adds – killed his buddy instantly also stuck with me. That’s a tragically-apt metaphor for the war. And the entire narrative arc of the interview nicely captures our country’s experience since that fateful September morning. The sheer rage and eagerness for payback. The panic when we realized we may have gone too far. And the resignation and bitter disappointment at the Bush administration, warring Iraqi factions, and even at humanity itself once the sectarian war is unleashed.
And nice tie in with your experiences during the AIDS crisis. That frustration when people around you don’t understand – indeed, are incapable of understanding – what you’re going through is something that I think will broadly resonate with many people. I had a similar situation, albeit at a less intense level, with respect to my underemployment during the Great Recession. I was deathly afraid of letting my friends – most of whom were getting along fine – know how underemployed and desperate I was. And it was on my mind constantly, leading me to act in objectively inexplicable ways towards others. I have greater stability in my life now. But I wonder whether I’ll always be a little more guarded.
Anyway, great interview. You continue to make me a happy subscriber! Happy Thanksgiving!
All readers can listen to two clips of the conversation here. If you want to hear the whole thing and haven’t subscribed yet, click here for full access to Deep Dish and daily Dish. Read more about Mikey here. He’s a hero of mine and still doing all he can to help his brothers grappling with the psychic aftermath of intense, prolonged, brutal trauma.