They were crying when their sons left
God is wearing black
He's gone so far to find our hope
He's never coming back
They were crying when their sons left
All young men must go
He's gone so far to find our truth
He's never going home
by System of a Down

Steve Kowalczyk Steve facing Bolinas, May 2000

On March 14th 2007 another number of US soldiers was killed in a war of questionable sense. Among them was Steve Kowalczyk, Specialist in the 9th armored First Calvery, who I had the honor to call "brother" since 1985/86 when I spent an exchange year with his family in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Why he volunteered to be a soldier in that war? Maybe because he visited a friend in New York right after September 11th 2001. But I do not really believe in that...

Steve was a seeker. Who went from skate kid and sportsman to an almost junkie and then again to being a straight edge person, using even coffee only carefully and in controlled doses and snacking on ginger slices while I was munching chips. In the year 2000 he took me on an unforgettable trip down the California Coast from San Francisco to L.A., San Diego and into Mexico, back via Malibu and Santa Barbara. We surfed, we got stoned, we sat in the sun, we got lost right there in the USA, we loved a country that is so beautiful and behaves so strangely every once in a while.

Steve was the guy to go on mountain hikes in full moon nights and not speak a word during the walk except maybe "Look!" once or twice. And then you would look and think "What?" for a few seconds, but if you kept looking, you'd know and still would not be able to explain what you had looked at. He'd sleep outdoors whenever he could, he was in touch with some things, I could not even name - maybe with life, maybe with something beyond that. Some people called him the Shaman...

I tend to believe, he went to war, not despite but because of that connection to something else, and because he was a seeker. And unfortunately, the seekers have ever and ever again through the ages been attracted to the presence of death. I believe, Steve was not riding a wave of patriotic heroism. He probably was fully aware of whom he was looking in the eye each and every day in a war.

But then again, what would I know?
I have last seen him and talked to him over four years back - before he joined the army. I still knew that a man who I was very close to had died, when the message of his death reached me today.

The death of a young man who I will always remember.

Steve Kowalczyk
San Diego, May 2000
Steve Kowalczyk

Steve Kowalczyk