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The male role models I had all seemed to have been in the military. My father served in the army. My uncle was in the Marine Corps. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. There weren't any career soldiers in my family, but when I was young it seemed like a way of arriving at adulthood.
Noises and smells, those can bring back powerful memories. I remember when I was going to school one Fourth of July, and there were a lot of fireworks going off. I knew that I was in Richmond. I knew that I was a college student. But I thought people were shooting at me.
As human beings, we have the blessing and the curse that we're able to adapt to almost anything. No matter how extreme the circumstances you're in, they become normal.
I think a lot of the guys I know and a lot of people I've talked to, what they want is very often what most people want, a kind of simple life, a livelihood, a family, people who care about them, people they can care about. I think vets on the whole want the same things that everybody else does.
My personal opinion is that if someone writes honestly about war, it will inherently be anti-war.
I'm always most interested in writing about things that I don't understand.
I can't envision an honest war novel that left war in a positive light.
One of the things my service in Iraq did give me was this freedom from fear of failure or any kind of expectations that I had to take a standard path.
I wasn't a good student in high school. I wanted to go to college, but they weren't exactly beating down my door to offer me admission, and it's so expensive in the U.S. If you join up for a period, the army will pay your school and provide a stipend.
It's not just: you get off the plane, you're back home, everything's fine. Maybe the physical danger ends, but soldiers are still deeply at risk of being injured in a different way.
I guess I find the boundaries between poetry and prose to be somewhat permeable.
I understood that 'The Yellow Birds' would be a peculiar representation of the experience of being at war. I intended it to be so.
I've been writing poems and stories since I was about 13.
Poetry and prose are of equal importance to me as a reader, and there doesn't seem to be much difference in my own writing.
Writing was always an aspiration, but I'd kept it a secret even from myself.
I know that the writers I read and admire all have an influence on my work, but trying to determine to what degree any particular piece of input changes the way I think about writing seems counterproductive.
I understand that it's incredibly difficult to watch what's happening on the news every day and not become inured to it. I've fallen victim to that myself, wanting to look away.
Joining the military is not to be taken lightly. You're putting every part of yourself at risk, not just your body but your moral and spiritual centre.
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Robert A. Heinlein
H. L. Mencken
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