An Open Letter to my English Professor
Let me preface this by saying that I do agree with many of the points you brought up — I agree that the United States has not experienced invasion in the same way as other countries have and I agree that our country does implement propaganda in order to gloss over horrific events and civil laws.
Historically, we are a nation that has committed tremendous injustices and atrocities against our citizens and other nations. I recognize that, and I understand that you were ranting against the government and not its soldiers.
However, thats not the way your perspective came across, because you failed to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice of our soldiers and citizens and the pain our nation has experienced. In doing so, you devalued and defamed our veterans, past and present, including myself.
More than that, your tone took on a Vietnam-era vehemence that has alienated and even killed many of our service men and women while on the home front. Your words felt like a personal attack, not only against me, but also against every fellow veteran who has ever served.
I almost walked out of the class.
I have lost friends to war. I have friends who are so messed up by PTSD that they can’t sleep at night. I’ve had a small taste of what it’s like — and to sit in a classroom where I’m supposed to learn about American fiction and listen to a professor, who is emotionally far removed from everything I have experienced, rant against the actions that I have lived through was a psychological knife through the heart.
You made me relive emotions that I would rather forget about and leave in the past.
I was offended and hurt
Further, you implied that the 9/11 attacks were blown out of proportion and that the nation responded irrationally. Tell that to the 343 firefighters who perished under rubble with sweat pouring down their faces and the blood of fellow citizens on their hands, or to the children whose parents leapt to their deaths from the one hundredth floor — who might be silently sitting in your classrooms, afraid to speak up.
Not only am I a veteran, I am also a firefighter who knows what it feels like to be powerless and in a dark room, blind and facing down death. I have some semblance of an idea of what those men and women went through in the moments before their death.
It’s a terrible feeling.
Just because you, and some in our nation, have not experienced the same amount of pain as other people and nations have, does not make the pain they have suffered any less. It does not take away what some of us have lost.
In the future, I beg of you to consider the background of the students in your classroom, before you broach potentially painful subjects with such a determined stance.
Thanks for reading,
Senior Airman Andrew Castillo. USAF Firefighter, 104th Fighter Wing
*The images contained in this post were taken by me during deployment, and represent the pain caused by depression and suicide in the Military.