Saturday, April 12, 2008

A sobering reminder

We've all been reminded this week that there IS in fact a war on, with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker giving testimony on the Hill as to our "progress" in Iraq. I didn't detect any tangible signs of "progress," but then I didn't last time they were there, either. Nonetheless, it was heartening to hear serious people actually discussing this fiasco in a way that lands it on the front pages.

Prior to the Petraeus/Crocker testimony, NPR's Talk of the Nation, a staple of my commute to work, invited journalist Chris Jones to talk about his recent article in Esquire magazine, "The Things That Carried Him." Jones followed one American casualty in Iraq, Sergeant Robert Joe Montgomery of Seymour, Indiana, from the place where he died in an IED explosion in Iraq to his final resting place in his hometown. The care taken in this article to describe every facet of this journey, from his comrades' touching farewell through the preparation for burial at the morgue in Dover, Delaware to his funeral and burial in his hometown, is extraordinary and moving.

What hit me hardest of all, though, is that this long goodbye has been repeated over 4,000 times now--4000 men and women have passed through the Dover mortuary and been returned to their families in a box. And those 4,000 all have families and friends who will never be the same, whose lives will be permanently altered. You have to ask yourself, "for what?!"

It is very tough reading, but you can get started by clicking here. Yes, there IS a war on, and the toll keeps mounting.


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