People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

A Life, Wasted

Posted by schroeder915 on January 3, 2006

A father’s grief:

He was a hero before he died, not just because he went to Iraq. …

At Augie’s grave, the lieutenant colonel knelt in front of my wife and, with tears in his eyes, handed her the folded flag. He said the only thing he could say openly: “Your son was a true American hero.” Perhaps. But I felt no glory, no honor. Doing your duty when you don’t know whether you will see the end of the day is certainly heroic. But even more, being a hero comes from respecting your parents and all others, from helping your neighbors and strangers, from loving your spouse, your children, your neighbors and your enemies, from honesty and integrity, from knowing when to fight and when to walk away, and from understanding and respecting the differences among the people of the world. …

Though it hurts, I believe that his death — and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq — was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator — a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires. They were wasted by not sending enough troops to do the job needed in the resulting occupation — a careless disregard for professional military counsel.

But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.

This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush.

The great tragedy of war is that those who are killed never have the opportunity to see how their own lives, and the lives of their children, would have turned out had they survived. Although many will surely attempt to measure the worth of their sacrifice, they who pay the price never have the opportunity to speak for themselves.

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