TV coverage of Memorial Weekend has been full of BIG numbers: the hundreds of thousands lost in our wars from the Revolution to Afghanistan.
(Did you know about the Sheepeater Indian War of 1879? One American soldier died. The deadliest war, so far, was WW2, with nearly 300,000 American combat deaths. Nearly 2,000 GIs have died so far in Afghanistan combat. How high will we allow that total to go? If we quit at 5,000 or 50,000 will the hell-hole be any better after our troops come home? I doubt it. The country may be not worth saving and not savable. Did we "save" Iraq? Sometimes I think we should rescue Afghani women and children, kill the adult men and turn the country into a giant parking lot, opium farm and ski resort.)
But war is much more than losses of thousands, it's the loss of ones.
By telling stories of individual, personal losses, maybe we can minimize future wars.
I graduated from high school in '64 and eagerly looked to our first reunion, strangely in '71.
I was really looking forward to hanging out with a good friend, but he wasn't there.
I learned that "B" was killed in Viet Nam. I blame his death on LBJ, not the Viet Cong. This was a kid I expected to—and wanted to—grow old with. I was cheated. His family was cheated. The country was cheated. Most of all, he was cheated.
We are long past the time to stop extending wrongful, hopeless wars with the pathetic desire to prove that Captain Sue or Sargent Steve "didn't die in vain." They probably did—and that's a tragedy that continues.
I'm not saying the following to demean anyone who served in the military: most of our dead and wounded warriors are victims, not heroes. Their deaths and injuries do not become heroic or justified because of the harm that befalls others after them.