Topic: "Permanent Vacation" (5)
Joe Rakowski and Frodo worked together a long time ago. Joe worked very hard and he never failed to do as Frodo asked, but Frodo could be assured that Joe would never go beyond his assignment. Joe did not have a creative bone in his body, but Frodo loved and admired Joe Rakowski. It was a sad day for Frodo when he hugged his old friend good-bye in the City of Brotherly Love. They must have been a sight to see, a Hobbit and a lanky old Polock Marine, but they didn't care, then or now.
Joe and Frodo exchanged Christmas Cards for several years, and when they suddenly stopped arriving, Frodo called his old friend, only to realize the ravages of memory loss do not spare American heroes. Frodo does not know if his old friend still walks the streets of Philadelphia, but he hopes so, because he deserves time with sons and grandsons.
Joe landed on the Island of Pelelieu with a whole bunch of other US Marines, and they weren't exactly greeted with candy and flowers by the Japanese soldiers who defended the sands of another spot in time where the battle truly wasn't necessary. That did not detract from the ferocity of the struggle.
Forty years later Joe would tell Frodo, over a traveler's brew, that he had discovered the skinned corpses of two of his buddies, hanging upside down at the mouth of a cave still occupied by the enemy. In words mild over time, but filled with the determination of a man trained to fight, Joe told Frodo what he did, and Frodo was neither shocked nor shaken. Frodo will go no further with this story, it was shared in confidence, and in confidence it stays. The imagination offers sufficient clarity.
All of this comes to Frodo's mind this eve because an island nation, not far from Pelelieu, announced that it was accepting the 17 Chinese Uighurs (pron. wee-gurs) soon to be transferred from the disgrace known as Guantanamo. Frodo was unaware that the residents of Palau do not recognize the Beijing Regime as the legitimate government of China, rather they believe the legitimate authority rests on Taiwan. The Chinese, Beijing-style, don't think much of the people of Palau, and are even less pleased now that the Uighurs, whom they consider to be terrorists, are being transferred rather than returned to their soil.
(For those slightly confused by all of this, the Uighurs are Sunni Muslims who live in the far western reaches of the People's Republic. These 17 were in or around al Qaeda training facilities when captured by coalition forces, almost 8 years ago, just this side of the Chinese border. The Uighurs care less about the US of A, but they do hate the Beijing Regime, and they have never waivered from their admissions of attendance at the al Qaeda facilities in order to better fight the repressive Beijing Regime. The conundrum arose that nobody knew what to do with them, since returning them to China would've been an obvious death sentence. So we kept them in Guantanamo, no charges, no trial, for almost 8 years).
What confuses Frodo is that it has also been announced that 4 Uighurs are being transferred to, of all places, Bermuda. Now Frodo is not sure if this is 4 of the 17, or if there are actually 21 Uighurs, and these guys just haven't been part of the head count. In any event, these guys get to go to one of Frodo's favorite spots in all the world, and it is certainly a far cry from Guantanamo, or Palau.
Frodo does not have the slightest idea if the Uighurs will ever, again, be free men. It is probable that Frodo will never cast his eyes upon any of these men, be they 17 or 21. He feels a kinship however, in much the same way he feels about Joe Rakowski. Indescribable suffering is best resolved by walking with your grandchildren, or finding someone to spread suntan lotion on your back.