Years ago, I went with my grandparents on Memorial Day to help decorate graves. As they placed flowers on the graves of family members, a grave of someone not in my family caught my eye.
The outline of a small airplane was carved into the polished stone that bore the name of a young man killed in World War II. The words “gone to patrol the streets of heaven” were engraved near his name.
From what I understand, the streets of heaven are pretty safe, but I recognized the need his parents had to channel their pain into a direction that gave them some relief.
I do not know what parents are telling themselves now as their children are being picked off each day in Iraq. As I write this, 257 Americans have been killed, 43 British, and who knows how many Iraqis. The count grows, too, for those who are seriously wounded, physically and psychologically, for life.
They are being killed as they patrol the streets of Baghdad in this nightmare we are embroiled in.
I often think of 30-year-old Second Lt. Therrel “Shane” Childers who was born in West Virginia and died in Iraq. He died leading his platoon to secure an oil pumping station.
His death epitomizes the madness of President Bush’s entire policy.
Let the oil flow.
The blood flow is surely following.
How much are we paying for gas?
Fifty years ago, when a West Virginia family placed their son in his final resting place in a hillside cemetery in Meadow Bridge, they could deaden their pain a bit with thoughts that he had fought for a noble cause. If he is now patrolling the streets of heaven after sacrificing his life for the protection of his country, the family can draw comfort from those thoughts.
But where is the comfort for families now if their children die securing an oil pumping station or while they try to get a can of pop — the recent fate of another soldier?
American soldiers are locked into an impossible situation not of their making. They are noble for simply enduring. But their leaders have placed them in harm’s way for no clearly discernible cause.
While they toil in the heat, the soldiers are targets from all directions. They also find themselves in the horrifying position of shooting at unarmed Iraqi families who are simply trying to move about their country, carrying out the chores of everyday life.
Too many Democratic leaders are so afraid of being labeled unpatriotic that they are paralyzed. But it is not unpatriotic to tell the truth.
Every soldier in Iraq is priceless. They are worth far more than the price we are paying for oil.
We must seek help from the United Nations and other countries to find a way out of this madness.
Instead of saying “Bring them on,” Bush needs to be saying “Bring them home.”
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