Monday, March 24, 2008

A Grim Milestone - 400 US Deaths In Iraq

I was driving back from Austin, Texas when I heard perhaps one of the saddest songs I have ever heard. Sad songs are just not too popular in today’s world, so when one comes along it usually sticks out. The country group Blue Highway recorded the song “Two Soldiers” on their latest album. It is not the “Two Soldiers” son made popular by Bob Dylan, rather it is a ballad about the grim duties of the two soldiers who carry the news that a loved one has died in battle.

As I listened tears welled up in my eyes. I am not usually so emotional, but I had spent the day with friends, some of whom will most likely be going back to Iraq and the seemingly endless war. Today, that song ran through my head again as I saw the latest death toll in Iraq for American Soldiers reached 4000.

Milestones are interesting, but in the great scheme of things they have little meaning. The true meaning is buried in the numbers. It is the names and lives of the men and women who died serving their country. My sadness is compounded by the thought that this war is the wrong war.

That brave soldiers had to die fighting the wrong enemy is doubly tragic. Their loss is not diminished. Their service is not tarnished, rather it is the acts and judgments of the people who sent them into the wrong battle I question.

My hope is that these latest deaths which we can so conveniently toss off as simple numbers will give the American people pause. The number 4000 should send shivers down our collective spines as we see the tragedy of the misguided leadership in our country. The additional deaths of Iraqi’s both civilian and military should be no less daunting. All could have been prevented had our leaders chosen to fight the “right” war.

In reality, there probably is no “right “ war, there are only wars with more compelling explanations. War in itself creates no clear winners or losers, only chaos and brokenness. Afterward, it is always left to the survivors the grim task of rebuilding the peace and burying the dead.

Perhaps someday, we will listen to the lyrics of that song and wonder what does it mean? Until then, it is up to all of us to insist that our government no longer wage war in the wrong place for the wrong reasons.

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