Counting the costs of war, one life at a time

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As @SkyPilot10 said on Twitter, this might make you want to weep. I have strongly opposed the war in Iraq, and while I don’t much like the war in Afghanistan, it’s quite possible that it was necessary to start that one. But regardless of my feelings about war, I think that those of us at home — regardless of our political views or our support for particular wars — should not just carry on with life, business as usual. The cost of war should be borne by all. It is immoral for us to blithely continue shopping and pushing for tax cuts, while we run up our national debt to fund wars — and then simultaneously claim we can’t afford the proper armor for our soldiers, we can’t provide better medical care, and we can’t compensate families more after losses or injuries. If we’re going to send people around the world to fight for our country, we should make sure they are properly equipped, well paid, and well cared for. When they are injured, they should receive the best medical care available. Period.

And we should count the costs. It was shameful that the Bush administration blocked media coverage of return soldiers’ bodies. It is shameful the Obama administration doesn’t speak more often about what we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is shameful that mainstream media keeps silence about this story. I keep a running counter on the right side of 7WD partly to note the exorbitant cost of a needless war, but also to remind us always that as most of us sit in comfort in the US, there are thousands of people risking their lives in very unpleasant conditions.

I am glad the New York Times lists every deceased soldier’s name and details. It shows honor, and it helps us remember. I agree completely with the mother on this video. It is shameful for us as a nation when we get collective amnesia about current events — that is, when we don’t remember the battles we are fighting as a nation and the women and men who are returning to the US in flag-draped coffins.

At the parish I serve, we regularly pray for those sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who are deployed. I don’t have to support a criminal war in order to believe that these women and men should be well treated. We send them away with our blessings, and we welcome them home with gratitude. We just sent eight boxes of supplies to a unit in Afghanistan — basic things — as a way to make things a bit more humane there. The generals and politicians in Washington need to be hounded to end these wars. The people who risk their lives deserve our prayers, love, thanks, and support. And, for God’s sake, when they die, we should pause for a moment and count the costs. Maybe if each night’s evening news programs ended with a montage of military funerals from the day, we would think twice for getting ourselves into pointless conflict.

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