Walter Reed Vigil Report No. 10
War Day 1,233
The vigil is now in its ninth month. Since last February the cost of occupying Iraq has increased at a far greater pace than the US Government envisioned. Would the Senators have voted a blank check for the President if they had known how much he would draw on it?
We have come to the moment when the announcement of the 2000th US soldier killed has been made. The moment will be punctuated with actions all around the country but we must not lose sight of how fluid this number is.
It does not include the deaths the USG does not count: the wounded who die on the way to hospitals outside of Iraq; Coalition deaths; Iraqi police, Iraqi interpreters, Iraqi employees of the occupying forces, Iraqis playing soccer in open fields, trying to drive through check points, children lured into death traps with candy, Iraqi hospitals, schools, and marketplaces targeted by both sides in the conflict, Iraqis who go untreated in hospitals because of lack of medicine, water and electricity, and doctors; journalists, contractors, representatives of other countries; Iraqis suffering from hunger and sickness (only NPR would do a story on foreigners flocking to Iraq to have inexpensive plastic surgery performed-oh, they did), yes, and of course the body count of "insurgents" (see soccer players above). Children crushed by tanks and transport trucks. Prisoners tortured, abused, held indefinitely, and sometimes dying of "natural causes".
Casualties means the wounded too. The ruined bodies, the lingering effects of combat, the nightmares, suicidal thoughts, and barely controllable urges to hurt others. The exposure to radioactive depleted uranium. The Pentagon admits that 80% of the returning soldiers are suffering from one or more of these ailments. And the VA has a special page on its web site for female and male soldiers who suffer from the trauma of sex abuse that occurred while they were in Iraq.
And then pray that the healing will come.
2000 is such a small number compared to the real cost-the real human cost. Death shrieks in laughter and pins medals on the chest of the War President. Mission accomplished. No one seriously thinks about September Eleventh anymore. We don't recall the faces or the names. We've got new fish to fry. Trade human lives for oil and bases, for launching pads for the next military adventure. "Let me explain," he lisps with the smile he can't keep hidden (love to play poker with this guy), "I'm the War President. I can't be the Peace President. People don't vote for Peace Presidents."
Oh, but those horrible people standing in front of Walter Reed on Friday nights, they are so awful. They're disturbing the wounded soldiers. Why are they doing that? They should know better. Look how they call for all the soldiers to get their full separation benefits and complete health care. Look how they call for all the soldiers to come home right now. How awful of them. That must hurt the soldiers' morale. These people want the war to end. Why are they saying that in front of a major military medical center? Don't they know any better? They should be ashamed of themselves.
Waterlogged and unrepentant,