Monday, May 28, 2007
This photo of is of the Arlington West Memorial at the beach in Santa Barbara. There are 3000 crosses in the sand, most with names, many with photos. Of course there is also a sign that recognizes that as of this writing there are actually 3497.
Memorial Day is always an ambivalent day for me. I am a pacifist. I always think there is another way to solve conflict than with military might. The Iraq War itself involves no ambivalence. I think Bush, Cheney and the rest of them should be tried for war crimes and imprisoned. Now we know that they told yet another lie when they tell us that nobody could predict what has happened. Before the invasion they had received intelligence estimates that predicted exactly what happened. Of course, they ignored those predictions. They must be held responsible for the death and destruction they have caused.
My feelings about the casualties are very different. (here's a link to the names, details, and photos of those who have died). Some who have died signed up for the military because they truly believed in this mission and believed they could make a difference in the world. Some were in the reserves because they believed it was an easy way to supplement their income and never dreamt they would be in combat. At worst they expected to be deployed to help clean up after a natural disaster. Some were confused young people who joined the military in hopes of finding direction for their lives. Someone had told them that "joining the army will make you a man."
The men and women represented by those crosses in the sand, many of whom were too young to really know who they were or where they were going, gave their lives at the bequest of the nation. It is a noble act to be willing to sacrifice your future for the greater good. It is an act to be honored. At the same time, it is an act that should not be required without the most serious of discussion and not until every other option has been exhausted. In this case there was no serious discussion and much of what there was was laced with lies. It wasn't a case where every reasonable option was exhausted, it was a time when the option chosen should not have been on the table at all.
These men and women did not waste their lives. They sacrificed for their country. Still, their lives were wasted. George Bush wasted their lives. They died for his macho fantasy in an unnecessary war that cannot be won.
I seriously doubt that he will be held accountable for his actions in this life, but I believe he will stand before God and listen to each name read, see each face of each soldier who died, of each one who has come back without limbs, of each one who cannot adjust to life after having seen what they saw and done what they did. He will see each face and hear each name of each Iraqi citizen who died as "colateral damage" or in the sectarian violence we fomented. He had better pray that his view of God is not accurate. If we do have a God of violence and vengence, as George Bush seems to believe, he will surely pay for what he has done. I imagine him standing and saying, "But I thought it was the right thing" with that goofy look on his face and God responds, "Go away from me. You never knew me."