Before I left the house this morning, I checked http://www.icasualties.org/ for the current number of US troops killed in Iraq, as I do everyday. By all accounts, icasualties is not the official Department of Defense count, but it is the site that I check during the day for the number that I refer to.
This morning the number was 3299. I've been out and about for a few hours and now the number is 3301. The numbers keep increasing- tick tock, Knock Knock. Those uniformed members of the military, the notification team has yet to notify 6 families. Those families think their life is still normal. They may be sitting down to Sunday dinner, holding close to the fact that there is an empty seat at the table, but just for the deployment, not for ever. They may be washing the dishes, or letting the dog out for the evening when that dreaded knock on the door comes. Knock, Knock. We regret to inform you....
In April so far there have been 4.15 deaths per day, more than most months- even since the invasion in March 2003. Since George Bush announced the surge in January, 300 soldiers have died. How's that surge working for you now, George? The only promise that this president has kept is when he told us that there will be hard times, difficult times in his Global War on Terror. But he doesn't know the meaning of difficult as it relates to burying a child. As much as I would like to have this president know the pain, really understand what it means to bury your only child; I don't think he, or other members of his PNAC infested administration have the emotional wiring to feel the pain of losing a child in a war you do not support. If I thought they would be profoundly changed by the experience; if I thought they were capable of having any empathy, I would gladly share my grief, but it would be wasted and they wouldn't know what to do with human feelings anyway. The lot of them, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith or Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, or Dick Cheney; not one of them has a soul. They only care for themselves, their egos & greed and I suspect, they don't really care that much for their families, despite what it may look like. They just don't know how.
I guess my feelings of melancholy, or bitterness or anger- you choose which, I'll just wallow in it, come from this weekend. On Saturday, I attended the memorial of Spc James Coon Walnut Creek, CA. Even in the cool, rainy weather, hundreds of people attended and honored Jimmy's life. Jimmy was only 22 and while the ceremony was lovely and you just knew he was the kind of child that loved and was loved, I had to keep asking WHY? Why did Jimmy have to die and leave his family with such a big hole in their hearts. On my way home, I stopped by the memorial crosses that sprouted up on a hillside in Lafayette, CA last winter. A cross had been labeled with Jimmy's name already; I left flowers for him and for Ken & Patrick McCaffrey. With 3289 crosses (they update the number on Sundays) organically placed, remembering and honoring the US dead in George Bush's Iraq adventure, all I can think is WHY? Why did they have to die?
This afternoon, I attended a reunion of Gold Star families who had taken part in a project called Stories of Service sponsored by the Digital clubhouse in San Jose, CA. Since the summer of 2005, about 20 digital stories have been written, narrated and documented by family members of soldiers and Marines who were killed in Iraq. None of the stories have been political, they've all been about the little boys who grew up to serve their country. This is a time to honor our sons & daughters, husbands and wives. I've seen Ken's story dozens of times, heck, I wrote the danged thing, but it sill makes me cry. Imagine watching a dozen of these stories in one sitting, which we did today. I was the project leader on the most of the stories to date and I am grateful that each Gold Star family took that leap of faith and painfully went through photos and music so their story would represent their loved ones just so. The loss of these young men was so unnecessary, I kept asking myself WHY they had to die?
None of the Sunday evening news shows mentioned the new milestone number that passed 3300 sometime this afternoon our time. I guess it's not news anymore; I guess it's not important to most people. But I promise you, every Gold Star family feels the pain for each new casualty as the numbers keep mounting, tick tock; knock, knock.