Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Iraq and Afghanistan--We Remember the Fallen
Bend our pride to thy control;
Shame our wanton selfish gladness
Rich in things and poor in soul."
--Harry Emerson Fosdick
Not long after I started this blog I began to report on the coalition deaths and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. month after month. Several months ago I stopped writing this report. Why? Each month the list seemed to grow longer and longer. I did not have time to list all the women and men who had died for us in the longest war in our history.
With Osama bin Laden's death last week I began to think about September 11th and all those casualties and all the fallen since that time.Somehow I could not get caught up in the celebration of the death of this terrible man. His stated goal was to bring down, not only the Twin Towers, but the United States as well. I am glad he is gone. I appreciate the efforts of the Navy Seals and all those that brought us to this point. I thank both President Bush and especially President Obama for making this possible.
My hope is that with bin Laden's death that we, and the rest of the world, will be safer and peace will eventually come to those war-torn countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. You may want to pull up the CNN website that reports on the wounded month after month and year after year. It is a long and sad list.
We must not forget the fallen from our country and the coalition forces that have helped in this effort. As our May 8, 2011 these are the facts.
In Iraq there have been 4,771 US and coalition casualties.
In Iraq there have also been 32,079 seriously wounded.
In Afghanistan there have been 2,433 US and coalition casualties.
In Afghanistan there have been 11,191 seriously wounded.
In 11 days as many Iraqi and Afghani civilians are killed than the entire number of US forces killed since the war in Iraq and Afghanistan began in Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003.
In an October study 2006, 650,000 civilians were estimated killed. This varies from another study which estimates 4000,000 civilians killed and another study just 60,000. This source computes that at least 250,000 have been killed since the war began.
Tim Arango has put a human face on civilian life in Iraq with a lead story in Saturday's May 7, 2011 New York Times. He tells about a photograph that was taken six years ago. It showed a litle five-year-old Iraqi girl screaming and splattered with blood. American soldiers opened fire on her family's car in the northern town of Tal Afar in January 2005. She saw the photograph six years later for the first time even though that picture has appeared around the world since it was taken. She said, "My brother was sick and we were taking him to the hospital and on the way back this happened...My mother and father were killed just like that." Her name is Shamar and she is now twelve years old and lives with four other families, mostly relatives. The story could be retold a thousand thousand times. Three years after her parents were killed her brother died in an insurgent attack. He had been severly wounded when his parents were killed and so he was sent to Boston for treatment. And now, he too is dead.
Read the whole story in The Times and weep. My hope is that with the death of Osama bin Laden that perhaps the war will slow down and finally cease. But as we remember our fallen--let us remember all those others who live in a land we know little about that continue to suffer immeasurably.
(Want to help? Sojourners is sponsoring a campaign to write our Congressional leaders to support a bill to end the war in Afghanistan. If you want to help--you might pull up their web page. )