Saturday, March 22, 2003

Demonstrations in Rome and Visiting the Vatican

March 22, 2003 1850 Via del Corso, Rome

I have much to catch up on from the Vatican. Right now I am feet away from the Carabinieri as a great many people have swarmed the city. I think it is a great thing that the people come together to remind the government who is still in charge. This is contrary, at least right now to the behavior of the proles in 1984. People together, for the cause of peace, especially the young people gives me hope that there will be less room in the world for war. I think this is wonderful—as I stand here to show that I too am against the war, pro-humanity, pro-family, and pro-tolerance. I have never seen anything like this before, but I am happy that it is happening.
1940 – Mc Donald’s near Spanish Steps. Ahh, Mc Donald’s! I had a cheeseburger without meat! Quite nice actually. Not eating meat is easier than I thought it would be. Well, Dean and I were at this Mc Donald’s back in 2000, in fact, I remember a lot about this place and the surroundings. As for Mc Donald’s being part of an evil empire, I don’t know about that, but I do know that this Mc Donald’s employs a lot of people. Some of the anti-American protesters are eating here now! No shame. The people here are really nice though. On to the Vatican…
Today at the Vatican was an amazing experience, and now I know why I came. When I walked up to St. Peters, I was awestruck at the architecture and art, I have never seen such a gem on this earth. It is a real tribute to faith, something other worldly. Walking through its cavernous passages, light shown eerily through some glass, shining a hundred feet below, through a haze. It is something that must be experienced. I do think that the tourists should be kept out during certain hours though. After climbing the dome of St. Peters, I returned to the main floor for prayer. The sacrament of confession is given there as well. I went and waited in line with some other Americans, but no one spoke. When I went in, I told the priest that I am in the Army, and that I may go to Iraq – but I cannot kill another human being. He told me to respect authority, but to defend what is right, defend my life and the lives of others – and that a preempted war is immoral, and that both leaders will be judged before Christ. That I believe as well. He was strong, the priest, and his voice, and his interest, with a passion he made clear and undoubtable with his eye contact. My contact was focused too, and we were on the same wavelength. He said to talk to Jesus, and he will answer. Usually this would be private, but he told me to come to the front so he could give me something, he was friendly and serious, and really conveyed well to me that he knew exactly what I was going through. He blessed me and told me of the Pope before John Paul II and that he was a soldier in World War One. I needed a direct answer, and he understood that. I really found what I was looking for. My faith is stronger for this. I wonder about Turkey, our ships turned away – the ships that were supposed to carry my division to Iraq. I think that is more that coincidence. I feel for all that are involved though, very little for the perpetrators. My belief is that human beings can reach a state of grace through God – all I have seen today has reinforced that. Human beings at their best, through love of God – as taught by Jesus, and the expression of that love – an example being art – as seen here. What is wrong with that? If we accept war, if we accept that as “human nature,” then this is all that we will ever be! Can we not be human beings, and able to achieve more? Is peace so repulsive that we should never know it in honesty? I walk through the ruins today, and I saw civilization – highly complex, calling out to us from years ago. If all we are humans of nature, then we are Roman, we are dead souls. Is this all we are capable of, repeating history over and over again? I really do wonder.
I miss Nora, and I am feeling tired. I am going to head back to the Vatican…
2114 – Vatican City. It’s times like this that you fully come to understand, and perfectly, that life is special, and of that which makes us special, we know only the tip of the iceberg. I am sitting with my back to the pointed pillar in the middle of St. Peter’s square, facing St. Peter’s. There is a cool wind blowing, bringing with it the smell of Rome – a smell I instantly noticed when I was downtown today, as I did in 2000. It is a starry night tonight, no moon. It seems as if the stars and the sight of St. Peter’s before me all belong in the same universe. It seems as if they are satellites of sorts to this brotherly being.
Peace does exist. I am experiencing it right now. We need to be more as a people. We need to help each other to get back up on our feet, the Roman Empire has crumbled, but the Catholic Church still stands, and it stands on faith. Faith is the answer. Life isn’t ordinary, even when it seems so, we maybe just aren’t living it. Children, you will one day read this. I want you to come to Vatican City one night, take a seat where I am sitting – find some stars if they are out, and know that God loves you – no matter what. Think, and listen. I could stay here all night. I miss Nora, she is a miracle to me. I remember the night before I got my assignment in 2001 in Germany, there was very little chance that I would get Friedberg. This I knew and the sergeant rather enjoyed reminding me of this point. That night before I got assigned – I prayed, I begged all night, and I made a promise. My prayers were answered, and I am very aware of that. I have been so happy, I have found my best friend, and I know it. I am thankful, and I am glad that I came here. Nora and I will be here soon too. It is time to go. I pray for peace.


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