#305 Spc. Paul J. Sturino, age 21;
#306 Spc. Michael Andrade, age 28;
#307 Sgt.1st Class Robert E. Rooney, age 43;
#308 Capt. Robert L. Lucero,age 34;
#309 Spc. Kyle G. Thomas, age 23.
For several weeks now I've posted on my office door a daily list, Killed in Iraq Today: The names, pictures, and ages of all U.S. casualties in Iraq. By last week they covered the entire door and surrounding frame.
I'm not certain why I began doing this. Like many others, I'm torn up each day as I read about this unconscionable loss of life. In part, I suspect that I somehow feel responsible, even complicit in their deaths because they were sent off to kill and be killed in my name. And I never feel I'm doing enough to get the troops back home.
I also wanted a graphic display so that the human consequences of all the official lying couldn't be evaded by anyone passing by my office.
Adjacent to the pictures, a notepad is attached to the wall with an invitation to leave comments. Dozens have done so but there is little agreement. Examples:
- "It's incredibly sad that so many people lost their lives for absolutely nothing."
- "It's not for us to reason why but to do or die. Grow up!"
- "Freedom is paid for by the blood of patriots."
- 'I have a friend in bootcamp and pray every day that I won't see his face on your door."
- "This is what blood for oil looks like."
Whatever their feelings, these folks went beyond the statistics to ponder the faces of fellow citizens who've made the ultimate sacrifice. For a heart-rending and haunting reality check,readers may wish to go to: cnn.com/SPECIAL/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/
For myself, I've been heartened to read about the parents of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, including those in the Reserves, who've begun organizing against the occupation. Fernando Suarez, whose 20 year old son, Jesus, was killed in Iraq, recently accused President Bush of being responsible for his son's death when he wrote, "My son died because Bush lied." Mr. Suarez has joined 1,300 other parents of soldiers in Iraq to say,"It is time for these troops to come home. Neither my wife nor my family want more children to die in this illegal war. We are no less patriotic for wanting peace."
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Larry Syverson, father of two sons serving in Tikrit and Baghdad, wrote, "I'm in awe of my sons and the honorable service they give. But the leaders they serve have not acted honorably. They have failed my sons. They have failed all of us." (The Guardian, 9/27/03)
Tom Predmore, a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, based in Mosul, recently wrote a lengthy piece in the Peoria Journal Star, in which he declared,"For the past six months, I have been participating in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Even today, the real reasons for the war are avoided by the dominant media and administration officials are never asked the obvious questions. But Predmore dares to mention the pink elephant standing in the living room when he inquires, "So what is our purpose here?" His answer: "This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or rid the world of a demonic dictator...but a crusade to control another nation's national resource. Oil - at least to me - seems to be the reason for our presence." But beyond these unsavory motives, massive deceit, the puppet Chalabi's clique and crony capitalism reconstruction contracts, one compelling truth remains: our men and women are dying. There are 12-15 attacks on U.S. forces every day, resulting in substantial numbers of wounded soldiers.
What to do? Many groups like Veterans for Peace and the rapidly growing Military Families group are demanding the withdrawal of all occupation forces. The United Electrical Worker's union recently passed a resolution that calls on the Bush administration to immediately cease military operations in Iraq; bring home U.S. military personnel and turn over the task of rebuilding Iraq to a genuine multinational peace-keeping force under the supervision of the United Nations, with the United States making good on its obligation to finance rebuilding; And all efforts to give Iraq's industries, service sector, and public resources to multinational corporations should cease.
Some U.S. officials believe that a given number of casualties is "acceptable." I would argue that not a single causality is acceptable. As soldier Tom Predmore pleads from Iraq, "How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them, rather than their leader's interest?"
Meanwhile we await tomorrow's list from the Department of Defense