In researching this post, I asked these questions:
How many U.S. military personnel died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm (Iraq), and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I could not find a concise answer.
Maybe I’m just too tired, lazy, or ultimately afraid of what I’ll find out. One number that jumped out at me was during WWII, all loss of life ranged over 60,000,000 people around the world, making it one of the worst, most devastating wars in human history. A point was made on one wiki that because of the newer war technologies, our current conflicts don’t cause the loss of life that previous wars did.
The Washington Post runs a series titled “Faces of the Fallen,” and at last count, over 5,400 troops have died as a result of the war in Iraq.
I personally know men who have served and have returned home safe. I have seen a big, strong soldier-daddy cradle a newborn baby at an airport, hugging a wife, and saying goodbye. I know the causes for these wars are incredibly complicated; this isn’t a diatribe about whether or not these current military engagements are right or wrong. I want to be very clear: I am in awe of the men and women who stand by their oaths and promises to defend our country because the Commanding Chief has asked them to. They are honor bound, courageous, and make sacrifices that are truly heroic. Their mothers, and fathers, need to be added to the discussion and mention of sacrifice, because for every fallen soldier, there is a mother who gave birth to him or her. I cannot imagine, cannot, losing my own sons, or any of my students this way. But I know in the realities of the economy of our times, many young men and women will join the military as a means out of their poverty.
I was of an age to see the Vietnam war broadcast in color on the news, the color of blood, green bamboo, and mud. Those images flashed in front of my eyes, and when my parents had a disagreement, I would react like the world was ending, my world. We don’t show the death, blood, and despair on the news. One woman was fired from her photography job for taking a photograph of military coffins coming back on a cargo plane. The media has been asked not to depict this war, so in some ways, unless it directly affects a civilian back in the States, it’s almost like it’s not happening; but it is. I wonder if we as a nation could be more creative, more responsive, to our enemies? I am not naive; I know we have them. There are groups out there, loosely banded or tightly wound, who seek to hurt and kill US citizens, for whatever ideological motif suits them at the time. That’s been the thread throughout history; humans make war, and use whatever ingredients they can find to do so.
Yesterday I didn’t post because I spent the day playing World of Warcraft with both my boys. My older son has gone to the Horde side, and the younger one was Alliance, and helped me level up, but went to the Horde side last night so he could join his brothers in raids.
Pretend, make-believe wars, quests, and medieval-like overtones do not connect to the real conflicts in any way. And I wish it was always so. Make believe quests are a lot more fun than the real ones.
Thank you, mothers.