by Susan McCarthy, RDC
Again, last night, I watched the end of The News Hour, with a memorial to ten more soldiers who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan. When this happens, I stop whatever I am doing to look at their faces, read their names and anguish over another human being who has died…for what? What have we accomplished with our many years of war, our billions of dollars spent and the loss of so many lives?
These young men and women, many from small towns across America, have given their lives to stop a terrorist threat that began over ten years ago. They are some of the over 6500 U.S. service members that have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Around half of these service members were married, leaving an estimated 3200 military widows across our country. This says nothing of the children they leave behind or of the 30,000 more troops that were physically wounded or the countless others that return with scars that can’t be seen, like post-traumatic stress syndrome. And it says absolutely nothing of the many innocent Iraqi and Afghani citizens who lost their lives.
A member of my family returned home from the Vietnam War and now lives with 100% mental disability. He served as a Green Beret and learned all the skills of jungle-fighting. He was trained in the words of the Ballad of the Green Berets “to live off nature’s land, to fight in combat hand to hand….to fight by night and day,” and today he continues to re-live those hellish experiences in his every day.
What can we do for our children, the next generation, to make it different? This is our challenge.
We live in a world that struggles to make changes. We are learning to be more accepting of people whose skin color, gender, sexual orientations are different. It is no longer acceptable to smoke in public places. The Mayor of the City of New York is working to fight obesity. How can we find new ways to respond to violence?
It’s not easy to stop war. I was part of regular demonstrations in Little Rock to try to keep our country from invading Iraq. For several months prior to the attack on Baghdad, we protested every Friday in front of one of the Federal Buildings. But war came anyway.
These days we are challenged to look at the brutality being inflicted on the Syrian people. Yet how can we respond? Please, God, not with soldiers, guns and more war!