What, you may think, has caused this fellow to lose his marbles? Worry not, reader, the above title is just a reference to one of my favorite books of all time, The Long Walk, by Stephen King
. Some may say Orwell had predicted the future, in Animal Farm or 1984, others point to Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451, but the future I see taking shape around me reminds me most of the story of Garrarty, Stebbins, McVries and the Major.
The basic story is this, approximately 100 adolescent boys participate in a ritualized walk, commemorating and celebrating a dim memory of a traumatic yet pivotal event in America’s recent past. One hundred start out, only one finishes. If a participant falls below the designated speed, he is given a warning. One warning every minute not on pace until the third warning, which is most often soon followed by the report of a rifle. This becomes affectionately known by the boys as, “getting your ticket.”
Who ever finishes gets his hearts desire. In the process the boys become attached to one another, much as the victims of traumatic experiences often do when sharing them with complete strangers, and so the story ensues. This not so distant future America is run by the “Major
,” a militaristic leader who played some key roll in the vaguely described events which the “long walk,” commemorates. Starting to sound familiar? If not, lets take a look at some of the recent news:
'Freedom Walk' marks 9/11 in Washington
WASHINGTON — It was a demonstration unlike legions of others in the capital. The T-shirts were Pentagon-approved, signs were banned and Cabinet secretaries, usually the target of protest, cheered on the throngs.
Thousands walked today in remembrance of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in tribute to U.S. troops abroad. By their presence, marchers endorsed the worldwide fight against terrorism that began after airliners slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field four years ago.
U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other outposts watched on video links as the crowd shouted, "America supports you." References to the politically divisive Iraq war were muted, but support for President Bush's policy was, for many, a subtext of the day.
I’m personally disgusted by this blatant exploitation of the events of September 11th, 2001. This so called “Freedom Walk
,” sans unapproved tee-shirts or signs, smacks of fascism and militaristic propaganda. I listened to the family members of 911
victims speak in outrage that the memory of their loved ones, having already been whored out in the run up to the Iraq war, were now to be used annually for anything but a simple reminder of their humanity.
The very irony that you could use these peoples memories in the context of a sanitized free-speechless zone, and call it “Patriot Day,” or a “Freedom Walk,” is absurd. The Houston Chronicle notes, “Security was tight. Participation in the walk was limited to those who registered before the weekend. Marchers were not allowed to carry signs.” Does that sound like America? Does that sound like freedom? Allison Barber
, deputy assistant secretary of defense said, “Protesting the walk
. . . would be tantamount to 'protesting the events of September 11 or protesting our veterans'.” Protesting the “Freedom Walk” is protesting the soldiers who fought honorably in Afghanistan before they were diverted to Iraq? Protesting the “Freedom Walk” is rallying against the innocent dead people?
We protest the perversion of freedom, the taking in vain of the word freedom. We protest you wrapping yourself in the flag and acting like anyone who doesn’t think the same way is some kind of traitor. I am a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism, and anyone who wants to tell me I’m not a patriot because I don’t wear some god damn lapel pin, or I criticize the President, can meet me at the steps of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on September the 24th
and we’ll have some words.