I walked into the K-2 computer lab, ready to service one of the desktops.
Roughly twenty 1st graders sat clicking away - their darling young faces illuminated by bright LCD screens; their heads gently cradled by giant plastic headphones - as Reading Blaster assaulted their senses.
In the back of the room sat the teacher and her assistant - the latter wearing large sunglasses despite the fact that it’s currently February 13th in Rochester, NY and we haven’t seen the sun in approximately 5 months.
“Oh good, are you here for my desktop?”
“I am! Which one is it?”
“It’s #20, on the end of the row there.”
That’s when I first hear the sound. It echoed forth from the back row like a shotgun blast in an empty cave. I held my breath, made my way down the row, and took my seat at the computer. A few seconds passed before another shot rang out, this time closer. Too close, in fact. Right behind me.
“You’re going to want to get out of here as soon as you can! This whole building is sick!”
As I turn to acknowledge the teacher’s warning, I’m assaulted by a third explosion. The attack had officially begun. I looked directly behind me and saw an adorable little girl wiping her nose onto the pink sleeve of her Dora sweatshirt. Before I could turn back towards my computer, another shot was heard from across the lab. Then another, from the same area, but definitely a different weapon. Within moments, the lab was filled with a deafening chorus of filth.
“She’s got pink eye!”
She. With the sunglasses. Of course.
Quickly, I repaired the computer and stood to make my escape. The air in the lab had become thick with invisible bacteria and viruses - unseeable by the eye, yet unavoidable by the immune system - like the countless billions of galaxies that mankind has yet to discover across the vast, cold, and dark expanse of the universe.
My eyes plotted the quickest path to the exit before my brain remembered that I had just been touching keyboards and mice that live in the warzone - each of them hundreds of times more infectious than any of the 3-month old magazines that rest on the table at your doctor’s office. Without breaking stride, my brain took command and rerouted me to the nearest Purell dispenser. Calmly walking past it, I silently pumped three squirts into each palm, exited the lab, and began my defense.
“Dear Parents :
Please congratulate me. I have been given a splendid opportunity to die. This is my last day. The destiny of our homeland hinges on the decisive battle in the seas to the south where I shall fall like a blossom from a radiant cherry tree.
I shall be a shield for His Majesty and die cleanly along with my squadron leader and other friends. I wish that I could be born seven times, each time to smite the enemy…
…Thank you, my parents, for the 23 years during which you have cared for me and inspired me. I hope that my present deed will in some small way repay what you have done for me. Think well of me and know that your Isao died for our country. This is my last wish, and there is nothing else that I desire.
How glorious is the Special Attack Corps’ Giretsu Unit whose Suisei bombers will attack the enemy. Our goal is to dive against the aircraft carriers of the enemy. Movie cameramen have been i here to take our pictures. It is possible that you may see us in newsreels at the theater.
We are 16 warriors manning the bombers. May our death be as sudden and clean as the shattering of crystal.
Written at Manila on the eve of our sortie. [28th October 1944]
Soaring into the sky of the southern seas, it is our glorious mission to die as the shields of His Majesty. Cherry blossoms glisten as they open and fall.”
Kamikaze letters:  
(Above: Kamikaze attack on the USS Colorado, 27th November 1944 - killing 19 and wounding 72)
Beautiful, chilling, sobering, etc. It truly speaks to the honor of the allied forces that fought in the Pacific that they were able to defeat an enemy that was so willing to die.
Vets Memorial 3 (via Steelopus)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Rochester, NY 2007
Eighteen year old Rifleman Craig Wood, from Doncaster, United Kingdom, participates in a remembrance ceremony under the Menin Gate in Ieper, Belgium, Wednesday Nov. 11, 2009. Rifleman Wood was wounded in Afghanistan by a bomb and is one of only three triple amputees who have survived the war. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
The world, especially Americans, needs to see more pictures like this. I’m not saying it’s OK to exploit disabled veterans, but when people start to criticize the president for being hesitant to send tens of thousands more troops off to war, they should perhaps stop for a second and consider exactly how heavy a decision it is.