As innocent civilians keep dying in terrorist attacks worldwide, Vietnam War veteran Leo Farley, of Queens, said he can’t help but feel “it’s almost common place. It becomes so routine” from blasts in Kabul, Afghanistan to tourists and locals killed on a Lower Manhattan bike path.
With the Oct. 31 attack still fresh in his mind, Farley and other veterans of conflicts in Iraq and Vietnam, will gather Thursday night at the 9/11 Tribute Museum to share their essays and poems contemplating war and peace in a post 9/11 world.
The veterans are part of the New York University Veterans Writing Workshop which is free and open to all veterans.
The event is timed to coincide with Veterans Day, which is on Saturday with official observances set for Friday.
Farley and a dozen other vets meet each Saturday to share writings on their wartime experiences. The aim, Farley said, is to publish and bring a new perspective about the realities of war and its emotional fallout at a time when the frequency of terror attacks can be mind-numbing.
“After awhile it becomes a numbers game ‘only eight people dead.’ We become desensitized to the horror,” he said.
Raised in Flushing, Queens, Farley was drafted at 19 in 1970. He said the writer’s group gives him the opportunity to gain comfort by sharing a common experience with a community of military veterans.
“It’s like therapy . . . ,” he said. “We root for each other like when in the service. We fight for each other. Not for flags or political ideas.”
Army veteran Jesse Herwitz, 38, a workshop participant raised on Manhattan’s West Side who served in South Korea and Iraq between 1998 to 2002, focuses on training methods used to prepare young people for war as a backdrop in his stories.
“How far can you get some one to commit to ideas to put a high school student into harms way,” Herwitz asked.
He employees a common wartime mantra used to get young servicemembers into a combat frame of mind — ‘What makes the green grass grow? Blood.’
“It’s effective on the minds that are soft at that young age,” Herwitz said.
Workshop regular, visual arts painter and writer, James Raczkowski, 30, of Brigantine, New Jersey, expresses his experience in Iraq with tiles that use optical illusions to show realistic combat scenes.
“What does it mean to be a soldier? There is a full gambit of emotions,” Raczkowski said, explaining the messages he tries to convey through his work. “Even sitting for hours waiting in silence.”
A line from his poem “One Day’’ reads: “ . . . and in the darkness we lay motionless, peering into void corners, drunk on pills made plenty . . . soon, the nightly rounds are made, dropping, ringing, pounding!”
Jerad Alexander, 37, who served in the Marines from 1998 to 2006, said he’s considering reflecting Thursday night on the concept that Veterans Day was once was called Armistice Day — a remembrance for peace after World War I.
“It used to be a day to celebrate the end of war,’’ he said, pining for a day when there will be no more war.