A reader sent me an e-mail regarding my post, “On Bush’s bloody hands ...” below.
“I just came across your blog tonight and read what you had to say. My heart aches for you as you seem to be filled with so much hate and bitterness. I will pray for you as I pray for the families of the fallen. My son proudly serves in the Navy and is currently deployed to Iraq.”
I’ve left the writer’s name out as she clearly didn’t wish to be identified. But I’ve decided to respond publicly.
Really, I'm not full of hate or bitterness, though this president and the war in Iraq, and the threat of another war in Iran surely combine to make me feel both for the first time in my life.
As I wrote the post, though, I was feeling only sadness and anger for the mostly very young Americans who've lost their lives in Iraq, 83 in August alone.
I wrote the post to recognize that the soldiers who died in Iraq last month have real names and had real lives, like the more than 3,500 others who died before them. I wanted to honor them. I wanted to try to make them real for my readers rather than simply, angrily rattle off more disembodied numbers.
We can’t cry for numbers. We can only cry for people.
I'm also very sad for the many thousands of soldiers, those brave men and women, who've come home from Iraq alive but missing limbs. And I’m sad for those who are now blind or perhaps brain damaged, or who are suffering post traumatic stress disorder, all of this suffering because of our president's madness in attacking and occupying another country. Their wounds didn’t disappear with their discharge from military service. Most of them are under 35 years old, and they’ll continue to face physical disability and mental pain, financial disaster, poverty and emotional distress for the rest of their lives.
Why were they asked to make this sacrifice? What was the compelling reason? Honestly – I’d like to know. I really would. I’m sure they would, too.
Finally, I'm terribly sad for the Iraqi people. They’ve borne the brunt of America's shock and rage over being attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. The 19 young, fanantical terrorists who hijacked those jetliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania cornfield were nearly all Saudis. Yet Saudi Arabia is a country America still considers a friend. In fact, President Bush literally holds hands with Saudi leaders when they visit.
Gentle reader, not one of those Sept. 11 jihadists was from Iraq. And yet, more than a million Iraqi moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, grandparents, kids and grandkids have suffered violent deaths as a result of George W. Bush’s terrible war, which was built on the hot air of lies, hubris, greed, convenience and vanity.
Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11, nor did Saddam Hussein. Certainly, the innocent Iraqi civilians who’ve died violently since America launched its war had nothing to do with it either.
Just for the record, none of the other reasons we’ve been given for attacking Iraq have proved true, either. There were no WMD; Saddam was no threat to America. And truly, democracy cannot be advocated at gunpoint.
I'm a Cold War Air Force veteran and I worked closely as a civilian with the U.S. Army in Germany. I'm an American patriot, too, but I'm not religious and I don't pray. I admire your son for his courage and integrity in choosing to serve his country as a sailor in the U.S. Navy. You and he both have reason to be proud – taking that oath is something only a small percentage of Americans are willing to do for their country. Now I can only hope that he's able to come home from Iraq to you soon. I hope he arrives on your doorstep safe and sound, in spite of Bush’s bloody plans for him and his fellow service members.
And I hope that if there IS a god, he'll open the eyes of good people like you and let you see the horror, the utter disaster and catastrophe this president and his enablers have caused for America, for Iraq, and for the world. Working together, perhaps we can stop them before more innocents die for no good reason.