news has been full of horrific terror attacks
in Russia rivaling 9/11 (but it wasn't in New
York City, so Republicans haven't had any emotional
response to it), hurricanes in Florida, huge Medicare
premium hikes, and of course, the Conventions
and the campaigns.
lost among all that was a report from Iraq that
1,100 American troops were injured in Iraq during
the month of August. The number surprised the
guys at the Pentagon who track such things, because
it was nearly double the second worst month during
America's military adventure in Iraq, while the
death toll - 60 - was only the third worst month.
Usually the two maintain a similar ratio.
worth considering what will become of those 1,100
brave people who found themselves among the re-elect
certain number will die in the subsequent days,
weeks or months as a direct result of their injuries.
Some are horrifically burned and will spend their
remaining days screaming themselves to death.
Others have suffered grave head injuries, and
will linger on life-support in a shadowy realm
between life and death before they pull the plug.
won't get counted in the "Iraqi death toll," which
is battlefield deaths only. It won't be until
after the war is over that the death toll will
include them, and perhaps, if they are lucky,
the validity of their deaths will meet with the
approval of fussy Pentagon bureaucrats, and their
names will be included on a wall or something
in DC a generation or two later.
- most, perhaps - of that 1,100 will have injuries
that will, in one way or another, haunt them for
the rest of their lives. Perhaps they have a limb
blown off. Or they are blind. Or they took damage
to the torso, and will live with chronic pain
for the rest of their lives. Often, vets, along
with civilian gunfire victims, live with weakened
hearts, the result of circulatory damage caused
by hydrostatic shock from the impact of the bullets.
all combat vets suffer, to one degree or another,
from post traumatic stress syndrome, which means
that they live with depression, anxiety, and deep
feelings of alienation and hopelessness, or constant,
gnawing anger. These syndromes are commensurately
worse among vets who have taken physical injury.
Most also suffer from hearing loss, from the blasts
of cannon and artillery fire. You don't get Purple
Hearts for those. Sorry bout that.
among those 1,100, there will be the ones whose
wounds are relatively minor. They will be released
for duty in some cases, and go back to facing
IEDs and children with grenades and wait to see
if they get injured again.
of those 1,100 will have "million dollar wounds,"
the dream of every combat vet. That's an injury
bad enough that they send the vet home, but not
so bad that it fucks up the rest of his or her
life. One can walk without a limp, and it only
hurts on damp days. Sure, there's PTSS and hearing
loss, but as mentioned above, those don't count.
one thing that all combat vets know is that they
are one of the lucky ones. Even the ones missing
limbs or sight know that they could just as easily
have been killed. There are thousands, perhaps
millions of vets who had the guy sitting right
next to them turned instantly into hamburger,
while they only suffered light wounds, or none
at all. It's so common that it's something of
a cliché in war movies.
all know it could just as easily have been them,
killed without warning, or suddenly missing an
arm or a knee. That's why we honor ALL combat
vets, living or dead, injured or not. All have
faced death in a way few of us civilians will
ever have to.
the 1,100, some will die anyway. Some will be
severely impaired for their rest of their lives,
or in horrible pain, or both. Some will be able
to get on with their lives, although wearing prosthetics
or needing a guide dog. Nearly all will suffer
emotional and mental trauma, some for the rest
of their lives.
lucky few will be able to make full recoveries
from their injuries, and go on to lead productive
and meaningful lives.
can't help but wonder if those incredibly lucky
ones will find, 30 or 40 years down the road,
that they will be subject to scorn and derision
because they weren't injured ENOUGH, didn't bleed
ENOUGH, and will be mocked, not because they faced
death, but because they were lucky enough to survive
one of those eleven hundred who are fighting a
questionable war for Putsch run for office someday,
and find that a pack of vicious, dishonest, political
operatives has formed a group that is blatantly
lying and smearing his record? Will they find
vets and bribe or coerce them into lying about
him, even when it contradicts the record, and
their own public statements in the past? Will
they face a political party that has formally
embraced the despicable and disgraceful practices
of Hermann Goering, and embrace lies for no better
reason than the fact that they work? Will a vacuous,
plastic, inane first lady excuse such behavior
by whimpering that her husband has had ads run
against him that made him look bad? Will preening,
strutting, well-fed clowns mock medals given for
combat by wearing little bandaids on their cheeks
with purple hearts on them? (Perhaps by then the
Republicans will have refined their attack, and
will have little cartoons of guide dogs with white
canes to mock vets who were "only" blinded.)
behavior of the Republicans is beyond disgraceful.
They are not just an embarrassment to America,
but an actual insult.
have to wonder how many, among these returning
1,100, are looking at the disgusting and cowardly
tactics of the Republicans in this campaign, and
wondering if that is the sort of "honor" they
can expect from this country in the future.
the Pentagon still makes "Why we fight" propaganda
movies for the troops, I suggest that they not
mention the Swift Boat Vets for Truth. They shouldn't
include a tape of the simpering, vacant Laura
Bush saying that it's ok to attack Kerry that
way because, after all, her husband has been subject
to "millions of attack ads." And above all, don't
show the troops the national disgraces at the
troops would not be amused. They would be even
less amused to learn that these tawdry, pathetic,
cowardly, nasty little liars are supposedly the
very reason why they fight.
anyone reading this who thinks the attacks on
Kerry by Karl Rove and his gang of cowardly bastards
are justified in any way, ask yourself how you
would feel if, 30 or 40 years down the road, someone
was doing that to a friend of yours currently
stationed in Falluja or Najaf?
Posted: September 7, 2004