How many kids did you kill today?
- student chant during the Vietnam era
On Easter Sunday we passed a grim milestone: 4,000 service men and women have given their lives since this war began. Meanwhile, many more wounded have come home, to far less support than they deserve. We do not know how many civilians have died..why is that? (1)
I watch the News Hour on PBS every night. It's one of the few places where I can find news with any depth or intelligence. (2) On far too many nights, they end the broadcast with pictures - shown in silence - of those military men and women who have recently given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. And when those pictures come on the screen, we stand up. We look at their young faces. We read their names. We give them our respect.
It is rare now for the network news to cover anything but the most local of losses in this war. We pay even less attention as a nation to the wounded. As a result, many Americans are not confronted with the gut wrenching reality of this conflict. We talk about the financial loss far more than we ever talk about the cost to young lives and unless someone you love is in the military you are probably not affected by this war. Not yet, anyway. The bill for this is coming due, and the next two to three generations will be paying the price.
AlterNet notes that:
A better number to measure the impact on U.S. military personnel from the five-year conflict in Iraq is around one million. That's the estimated number of U.S. troops that have had at least one deployment to Iraq, and all of them will be changed, in ways great and small, for the rest of their lives.Why doesn't every, single TV news channel in this country show the pictures of the fallen? (3) If it were my son or daughter, I would want someone, somewhere, to show them this respect.
From The News Hour website: (the video is also at this link)
The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that the number of news stories about Iraq had fallen off dramatically since last year. The study shows the percentage of news stories devoted to the war dropped from an average of 15 percent of all stories last July to just 3 percent in February of this year.In 2006, Donna St. George at the Washington Post noted that more women and single mothers have served in this war then in any other war in our history:
When war started in Iraq, a generation of U.S. women became involved as never before - in a wider-than-ever array of jobs, for long deployments, in a conflict with daily bloodshed. More than 155,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among their ranks are more than 16,000 single mothers, according to the Pentagon, a number that military experts say is unprecedented.
If you are old enough to remember the Vietnam War then you saw all those body bags coming off the planes. You saw the funerals, the folded flags given to the families, the tears shed by people who rarely ever cried, and the respectful salutes. You saw this every night at dinnertime. You couldn't escape that war. Your friends and family were over there. If you were a young male you wondered when your number would come up. If you were a female, you wondered when someone you knew would have to make the choice either to serve or run to Canada. Jon Stewart has rightly observed that we do not have huge numbers of collage age students marching in the streets against this war because we no longer have a draft. I do not advocate a return to the draft, but I do wonder: If more young people were faced with the prospect of military service - and we did not leave this awful task to the highly dedicated, the desperate, the undereducated, and the poorest among us - would it end any sooner? If Bush's daughters or Romney's sons were at risk, would the Republican planners have gone in so lightly and with so little care for their safety? If fewer people on both sides of the aisle had gotten deferments from military service in the 60's, if they had known what real combat was like, would they have allowed this President to take us into Iraq?
My Uncle's name is on Vietnam War Memorial. So are the names of some family friends. These losses changed all our lives. Like many Americans, I have relatives going back many generations who have proudly served their country in the armed forces. While I have not served myself, I respect and listen to those among my family and friends who have. To a man (and woman) they hate this stupid, useless, waste of a war. They thought we had learned better by now. They hate what is done to - and not being done for - this new generation of soldiers.
We should look at their faces every night. We should know their names, and the town they came from and uniform they wore. They should have a G.I. Bill as good as the one given to the veterans of WWII. Their medical and psychological care should be on-going and state of the art. We owe it to them. We owe it to ourselves.
I don't always agree with Michael Moore, but I do today: We should each call our congressman and women and tell them what we, as Americans, want done now, before many more families get that knock on the door.
Today, my thoughts are with those on all sides of this conflict, who will never, ever be the same.
From Michael Moore:
I see that Frontline on PBS this week has a documentary called "Bush's War." That's what I've been calling it for a long time. It's not the "Iraq War." Iraq did nothing. Iraq didn't plan 9/11. It didn't have weapons of mass destruction. It DID have movie theaters and bars and women wearing what they wanted and a significant Christian population and one of the few Arab capitals with an open synagogue.
But that's all gone now. Show a movie and you'll be shot in the head. Over a hundred women have been randomly executed for not wearing a scarf. I'm happy, as a blessed American, that I had a hand in all this. I just paid my taxes, so that means I helped to pay for this freedom we've brought to Baghdad. So? Will God bless me?
God bless all of you in this Easter Week as we begin the 6th year of Bush's War.
God help America. Please.
Frontline TV Special: Bush's War
(1) By some estimates, it is over 80,000.
(2) Along with the BBC and one or two other sources, some serious, some not so much. All Gods Bless Keith Olbermann at Countdown, as well as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert
(3) That's an angry, rhetorical question - I know damned well why.
Art: From Iraq Veterans Memorial Video Project
From Coffins to Coffers
Wounded In War: The Women Serving in Iraq
Female Vets Offer Commander In Chief Advice