Tuesday, September 07, 2004

There's No Damn Reason to Make A Big Deal About This One

There's no damn reason to make a big deal about this one. Why should people stand up and take notice of this particular soldier, who fell at noon today, Baghdad time (3:00 a.m. here in the Central time zone)? Strange to think that I was fast asleep then. I was snoring while this man met his maker and made "history."

No name released yet, no rank. His family may not even know yet. I may be talking about a man whose wife is crying at this very instant.

He fell at high noon during an attack in Baghdad. We like to think of High Noon as being distinctly American -- like Gary Cooper's stand against the forces of corruption. But this guy was just a guy. Not a white hat, a guy. Not a number, a guy.

He's no different than Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric L. Knott, or Staff Sgt. Gary A. Vaillant, either of whom nearly hit the "jackpot" and made the news. They're all the same, regardless of the order of their passing. All of them deserve our respect and our thanks. All of them deserve to be noted at their passing. More importantly, all of them deserve a country that will take seriously its obligations to our soldiers. They are all dying in a war that we did not have to fight, that we did not plan for, that we did not treat with respect, and that has no end in sight. Each and every one of them is more than a number, yet reduced to a number. Why is his number different than any other?

He's just a guy. He deserved better.

He's a guy from Arizona. He grew up in the barrio, and the Army sounded like a good way to pull himself up the ladder toward college and the American dream.

He's a guy from Tennessee. He's idolized the Marines since he was a little kid.

He's a guy from North Dakota. After 9/11, he wanted to be part of the solution.

Now he's number 1,000. He will be flown secretly into Dover Air Field under cover of darkness, hidden from the cameras. There's no damn reason to make a big deal about this particular hidden, flag-draped coffin. After all, it only took nineteen minutes for his landmark to be superseded.

It's no big deal.

Now, this is a big deal: what are you going to do about it?

 8:07 PM

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