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America. It is big and it will kill you.

By       Message Mike Palecek     Permalink
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#4 The American Dream Book Tour & Protest Across America


SHELDON, IOWA - Hello all.

I am home this weekend for Easter, watching the Red Sox and Rangers on Sunday Night baseball.

I was in Lincoln, Omaha, Wayne, Sioux Falls since writing last.

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Lots of memories in Omaha. Ruth and I lived there during much of the 1980s in a resistance community in north Omaha called Greenfields, named after the anti-war song The Greenfields of France.

"Oh how do ya do young Willie McBride. Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside."

I think I carved that into my cell in Terre Haute Penitentiary while I was there for three weeks waiting transfer to El Reno, Leavenworth and La Tuna.

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Terre Haute. "Dog-ass Terre Haute" somebody on the prison bus said as we pulled within sight. We had come from Chicago and stopped at Marion earlier in the day to pick up a couple of guys bound for Leavenworth after years in lockdown at Marion. Or maybe Marion came after Terre Haute. Not sure that I remember anymore. 'Scuse me.

You get out of the prison bus and you walk up toward the big brick penitentiary, through the guard towers and the shotguns and rifles. And you know that none of it has to do with right and wrong. It has to do with we are bigger than you and we could give a sh*t about thou shall not kill and the poor and any of that sh*t and we will kill you if you get out of line and run toward home and your son and your wife.

And 'scuse me, but that walk up from the prison bus to the big brick walls of Terre Haute Penitentiary is where I formed a good deal of my opinion of America. Even days and weeks and years spent in hot and cold classrooms, wooden desks and Formica desks, listening to Sister Anita and, Lucy, Monique and Luellan, studying American History and religion and English and hygiene, from impressive, hard cover textbooks made in Texas could not compare.

The guns were pointed at me. My son was sitting at home in Nebraska looking out the window wondering when I was coming home.

America. It is big and it will kill you. It is mean. It is rich. It is obnoxious. It is beautiful. It has people capable of stopping their car in rush hour traffic to move a baby bird to the grass, or of looking the other way for forty years while people suffer and suffer and finally die.

America. A big, red brick walled country.

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But, sh*t, the people who will stop in traffic for the little bird are far and few between, while the ones who will take money to build big, red brick walls are lined up from here to the hardware store.

Anyway ... Omaha.

Dog-ass Omaha.

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www.mikepalecek.com
Author, former peace prisoner, journalist, candidate.

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