Sunday, March 23, 2008

4000 US Deaths in Iraq

In our 6th year of military operations in Iraq, we knew this day would come, we knew this number would come. 4000. Any death from Iraq is unacceptable, but to hear the announcement of the 4000th US death in Iraq on Easter, a day of joyous celebration, is an affront, one of those karmic ironies that should not happen.

This deathwatch started ticking on March 21, 2003 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 dead American soldiers. Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Kendall Damon Waters-Day, Brian Matthew Kennedy, Ryan Anthony Beaupre, Jay Thomas Aubin, Therrel Shane Childers were the first to die in Iraq. Why was this country not offended by the death of these 6 soldiers, these sons, brothers, fathers, friends? What number of deaths is okay or acceptable? We know 6 was okay. We know that 818, my son, Lt Ken Ballard's number from back in May 2004 was okay. If people don't take to the streets or write their Congressperson, or do something about ending this war and ending these deaths, then we know that 4000 US deaths is also okay. I don't know what number is unacceptable to the citizens of this country, but I do know that any number more than zero is unacceptable for a war based on lies. The 44th president will determine what number is acceptable. If military operations continue for 100 more years, as one candidate has suggested, we can only imagine what that number will be.

Some might wonder if the 4000th death is more notable than the 3999th, Morten Ender, a US Military Academy sociaologist who studies the military says "4000 is a good round number people can grab hold of, it reminds us of what's going on with a war that, since the (military's troop) surge, seems to have lost its place in the public mind" .

With the American media and public paying less attention than ever, marking this grievous milestone should put the occupation in Iraq back on the front page for at least one news cycle. It's the least we can do for the military who continue to be in harms way. Regardless of our politics, these men and women are occupying a country in our name. They need to know that they have the support of the people back at home, you know, support the warrior even if you don't support the war. It's a slap in their faces if we don't at least acknowledge their presence and the service to their country. With such a small percentage who do serve in the military, about 1% of the US population, we must remember that they serve.

The fear of any Gold Star family member, who has lost a loved one while serving in the military, is that their loved one will be forgotten. We Gold Star families can and will never forget and neither should our population. If only for this reason, we should mark this sad milestone.

According to USA Today, of the 4000 members of the military, one in six were too young to buy a beer. About two dozen were old enough for an AARP card. Eleven died on Thanksgiving Day, 11 on Christmas, and at least five on their birthdays.

Tonight 160,000 US families marked their Easter Sunday with an empty seat at their table because their loved ones are deployed to Iraq. 8 of those families do not even know that the life that they woke up to this morning is over. One roadside bomb, one IED 6000 miles away took care of their future and in one knock on the door, they will hear the words that every military family fears, "I regret to inform you".

My heart goes out to these families who have joined the ranks of other Gold Star Families. No one wants to be in this club. We can make sure their are no more Gold Star families. What will you do today to stop this occupation?

1 comment:

Mike Belgrove said...

I'm a Soldier in the U.S. Army and when I heard news of the 4000 death mark I became sick to my stomach. I'm lucky enough to have been to Iraq and return home to my family but so many of my fellow Soldiers have not been as fortunate. And in my heart i feel like every one of those 4000 deaths our president is to be blamed for.

I've opened up a discussion on my blog so I can talk to people and answer their questions and hopefully make people understand that not all military are supporting this war and that every one of those deaths was important and unneeded. I'd like it you'd stop by and toss in your two cents.

I'm all for defending my country but U.S. did not need to be defended from Iraq.