Monday, May 29, 2006

Justify This War, Now!

We need the real reason for the Iraq war. No more American children should ever have to recount stories like these. This is what Memorial Day is for, to remember the fallen so we DON'T DO IT AGAIN, but we never learn. It's frightening how many people want to go to war but never consider the real price that is paid. Because it is never paid by them.
After Loss of a Parent to War, a Shared Grieving - New York Times: "'He was in a Humvee, driving at night on patrol, and a homemade bomb blew up on him so bad it killed his brain,' Jacob said of his father, Staff Sgt. Brian Hobbs, 31, of the Army. 'But he wasn't scratched up that much. And that's how he died.'

Sitting across from Jacob in a circle at a grief camp over Memorial Day weekend, Taylor Downing, a 10-year-old with wavy red hair and a mouthful of braces, offered up her own detailed description. 'My dad died four days after my birthday, on Oct. 28, 2004,' Taylor said quietly of Specialist Stephen Paul Downing II. 'He got shot by a sniper. It came in through here,' she added, pointing to the front of her head, 'and went out there,' shifting her finger to the back of her head.

'Before he left,' Taylor said, 'he sat me on his knee and he told me why he had to go: because people in Iraq didn't have what we did. They didn't have enough money. They couldn't go to school. And they didn't have homes.'

An estimated 1,600 children have lost a parent, almost all of them fathers, to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
What do you mean, almost all of them fathers? How many mothers have been killed? That is a stat I would like to see. America doesn't want to see it, so you edited out that little piece of information? Why? Afraid it might be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back?
Over the Memorial Day weekend, nearly 150 of these children gathered at a hotel here in this Washington suburb for a yearly grief camp run by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit group founded in 1994 that helps military families and friends cope with death and talk about their loss.

Burying a parent is never easy for a child, but losing a father in a violent way, in a far-off war, is fraught with a complexity all its own.

The children receive hugs from strangers who thank them for their father's courage; they fight to hold back tears in front of whole communities gathered to commemorate their fathers; they sometimes cringe when they hear loud noises, fret over knocks at the door and appear well-versed in the treachery of bombs.

And often the children say goodbye not just to their fathers but to their schools and homes, since families who live on a military base must move into the civilian world after a service member dies."
When my dad was sent to Korea we had to move out of base housing, they let us live on base but it was an out of the way trailer park next to the jail. Dependents don't mean much more than the soldiers themselves.
Many of these children are old enough to remember their fathers, but now the images are slipping away in fragments.

One memory few will ever forget is the moment they learned that their fathers would not come home. Paul R. Syverson IV, a 10-year-old with a blond crew cut and his father's face, saw a soldier at the door. "My mom saw him and started crying," said Paul, trying hard to stifle tears as he recounted how he was sent next door to play.
My dad would be gone for a year to 18 months and yes he would become a distant memory, we would always be surprised when we saw him again. Now that I look back on it, probably not as surprised as he was since we were the ones who were growing. At least my dad came home.

During the sixties dad took as many overseas tours as possible because he didn't want to go to Vietnam. His logic was that he wasn't going to die and leave a wife and three children for a war we couldn't and wouldn't win. He saw the problem developing in 1961 when we were sending "advisors". His specialty was radar, so he asked for another year in France. We came back to the States on my sixth birthday. We spent two years in Washiington (the state) and then it was off to Puerto Rico for three years. We flew back to the States on my 12th birthday. For my 13th my dad left for his first tour of Korea. Back just after my 14th gone again for my 15th and 16th. I used to think it was a plot that everything happened on my birthday, but I got a look at his military records and he graduated from basic training on May 19th, so that forever became his anniversary date. I was collateral damage to the military. Which is what these kids are.

In a few years the country will have moved on, but these lives will be forever marked by the tragedy of a war that took place thousands of miles away, for no real reason that anyone can understand since it keeps changing with the bad news.

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