A Warning to Ignorant Americans: Be Prepared

Jeremy H. Warneke 

Jeremy H. Warneke 

Iraq was the prime mover. Sure, my ex kicked my ass, and boot camp also put my butt into gear. But Iraq was the tipping point. It’s what politicized me. So much so that I have changed my legal middle name. I mean, my former legal middle name was Owen, which is my father’s legal middle name. I had no real attachment to it, however. I didn’t like the sound of it. The name was Irish in origin, but my grandmother was only part Irish. And according to a DNA test, I’m only five percent Irish myself.

Changing my legal middle name was a needed break. My father, for example, visited me in January. He lives approximately five states west, but unfortunately, we only argued most of his visit. With Trump having won the election, you’d think that some people, our current president for example, would get over Obama. But no, these people have an unhealthy obsession. It must be a sign of inferiority, like Trump’s small hands, Hitler’s obsession with the Jews, or the inability to face reality such as low approval ratings and poor inaugural crowd attendance. (Racism undoubtedly plays a role.)

Beginning with Facebook in February, I bestowed upon myself the middle name of Hussein, and people who know me have asked me why. I have no real affinity toward Islam or religion in general. Nor do I care for dead, deserved-to-be-hung dictators. What I do care for is the United States and decent, intelligent people like our former president. The idea that something like a middle name, Obama’s middle name, means (or meant) anything more than just a word is ludicrous. Obama’s a Protestant Christian, right? Why, then, do people persist with the falsehood that he’s a Muslim? In other words, changing my legal middle name to Hussein was my subtle way of saying fuck you to ignorant people. I mean, am I Muslim now? Did I go to a madrassa? Do I hate Israel or refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance? (If you’re seriously entertaining any of these questions, go back to school.)

During my father’s visit, he asked me at one point how come “they”—presumably the Bush administration—didn’t send the regular Army to Iraq instead of me, a National Guard soldier. I don’t remember what I told him, but I do remember what my Team Leader told me, when I said why I joined the National Guard back in the day: I assumed that if I got deployed, I would go to Western Europe or, at worst, the Balkans. My Team Leader’s response: “Boy, weren’t you naïve.” (When my Team Leader and I were in Iraq in 2003—first time for me, second time for him—approximately forty percent of troops there comprised of Guard and Reserve units.)

Anyway, if you can’t already tell, I have a big chip on my shoulder. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, I didn’t choose Iraq; Iraq chose me. And who’s to blame? Ignorant Americans who sometimes vote. In other words, if you sit back and allow for your sons and daughters—America’s sons and daughters—to be sent into an unnecessary war or—worse yet—if you more or less voted to send them, be prepared for arguments, be prepared for name changes…be prepared for a whole lot more.