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Let us not forget...

3/31/2003 4:11 PM
James Gale
Let us not forget...
As war grinds on, we must never grow inured to names, faces of those lost in battle  
Asheville Citizen-Times  
POSTED: March 30, 2003 10:43 p.m.  
It's tempting to just turn away. As news of war in Iraq came, many people, rightly or wrongly, expected a quick fight and a tidy end to Saddam Hussein.  
Given predictions of the effect of "shock and awe'' and expectations of an uprising by a people who have suffered decades of brutality, depredation and oppression, hopes for a war of a few days were common. After all, the ground phase of the Gulf War lasted only 100 hours.  
We were all glued to our television sets for a day, then two, then a week. As time went by the 24-hour coverage on major radio and television networks went back to the standard fare, punctuated from time to time by a bulletin or two.  
We find ourselves in an uncomfortable new routine where war is the rule rather than the exception.  
While the major networks have curbed their coverage, the 24-hour cable stations continue to churn out a steady stream of jerky footage from reporters atop tanks or former generals holding forth on a new threat or strategy.  
Then the reports come in. Another death here, another missing there.  
And you just want to turn away.  
At precisely the time you should not.  
Much of the on-air coverage of this war is akin to a marshmallow. It's mainly air - regurgitated press briefings, endless speculation and long-winded commentary.  
But when the names and faces roll, we should stop and pay attention.  
Those who are paying the ultimate price represent forever empty seats at school meetings, nighttime stories that won't be told to their children, a lifetime of friendship and family and church and more that is forever stilled.  
They have names and faces. Names like Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, of Boise, Ida., killed in a grenade attack. Names like Marine Cpl. Evan James, 20, of La Harpe, Ill., who drowned attempting to cross a canal. Army Spc. Gregory P. Sanders, 19, of Hobart, Ind., killed in combat; Marine Cpl. Brian Matthew Kennedy, 25, of Houston, killed in a helicopter crash; Army Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, Park City, Kan., held captive; Army Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland, missing in action.  
We should pay attention to these names. We should hold them in honor. And we should pray there won't be many more of them.  
Words of inspiration:  
There is much talk coming out of Iraq, some reasoned, some not. For sheer eloquence, we haven't found anything to match the words of Lt. Col. Tim Collins, a 42-year-old commander of the Royal Irish battle group, as reported in a Times of London commentary by Ben MacIntyre and read on National Public Radio March 23. Here is the battlefield speech Collins gave to his troops hours before entering the fray in Iraq:  
"The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity. But those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.  
"We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people, and the only flag that will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Don't treat them as refugees, for they are in their own country.  
"I know men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. They live with the mark of Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law, and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please. If there are casualties of war, then remember, when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly, and mark their graves.  
"You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for your deeds will follow you down history. Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood, and the birth of Abraham. Tread lightly there. You will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be embarrassed by their hospitality, even though they have nothing....  
"There may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow. Let's leave Iraq a better place for us having been there. Our business now, is north."
3/31/2003 6:49 PM
stephen conner

I know it's little consolation if it was your relative that got killed, but check the figures: Coalition forces have lost about 50 men, mostly due to accidents and friendly fire. Compare that to Stalingrad or the Somme, with death tolls of about 1 million each. And already people are worried about heavy casualties.  
I have high hopes that this means that people are getting more sensitive to what really happens in war, more aware of what a pointless waste of human lives it really is, and less prepared to let their government drag them into wars that nobody needs. The great engineer Nikola Tesla said that no weapon, however powerful, would "end all wars", but that communication and freedom of information eventually would. Now that we can see every single dead U.S. Marine on TV almost before he hits the ground, I hope this finally might be happening.  
P.S. They're not sleeping bags! They're body bags!  
Steve C.
3/31/2003 7:10 PM
Kursad K
"Coalition forces have lost about 50 men, mostly due to accidents and friendly fire."
Do you really believe that?  
3/31/2003 7:50 PM
Mark Lavelle

"Do you really believe that?"
What do you believe? It's not exactly something they can get away with lying about for long...
3/31/2003 8:29 PM
Kursad K
"What do you believe? "
I dont know.  
"It's not exactly something they can get away with lying about for long..."
Until the war ends you can lie as much as you can.  
3/31/2003 9:24 PM
Matt in TX

I believe the prophet Mohummed himself came back from the dead to smite the infidels.  
Gimme a break!  
3/31/2003 9:47 PM
Tom Dellinger

During the Viet Nam "war??" (never declared), they lied to us for years about the body count of US forces vs the Vietnamese. The daily "body count" was a part of the TV news every night, if I remember right. The line out of Washington was routinely: "the end of the war is just around the corner." Ha! Turns out LBJ was feeding us that line as he confided to those closest to him that he believed we didn't have a snowball's chance of winning. I take all crap from Washington that is meant for public consumption with a very large grain of salt.

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