While in college I worked on campus sorting and delivering mail to the various departments at UCSD. It was a great job because it allowed to really learn a lot about the school and I befriended a lot of the full time employees. Over the years, I’ve remained in contact with one of them. In the few couple of years we’ve exchanged a handful of e-mails. His son is now serving his second tour in Iraq. During his first tour, my friend began getting involved in an organization for parents of soldiers who oppose this war. He has been a part of numerous protests and has met with elected officials.
As a father myself, I cannot imagine my boys off fighting a war. Regardless of the reason, regardless of the justness of the conflict it would be difficult. My friend tries to relate his, and his son’s, experiences in a letter he wrote to his elected officials. I think that it is appropriate for me to share his letter here (with his permission). It is certainly thought provoking.
My son called from Iraq yesterday he lost another combat buddy this week. The call was quick, so I didn’t even get the soldier’s name. I am waiting on my daughter-in-law to send me his name and his family’s address. My wife and I will write another letter to parents that have lost their “baby boy”. Several other soldiers were injured that same day.
Look around at your co-workers right now and imagine 5 of them have just been blown up. You weren’t injured, so you have to help bag the body parts and then go back to work. This last month alone my son has picked up body parts of 5 Americans that he has known. The young man killed a few days ago my son said, “Dad there was nothing left”. This is just the month of November 2006. My son is on his second deployment and has a combined time in Iraq of two years. “You can only run across a freeway so many times, before you get hit by a car”
I have met and talked to everyone of you (Senators, staff members and Representatives) in Washington DC. I have shed tears in front of you while talking about my son. You meet with us parents you give us that sad look, shake your head and say this must be really hard. Then we never hear from you again. Our loved ones are only numbers to our leadership. (troops in Iraq, troops killed in Iraq, wounded troops in Iraq, political polls on Iraq) My son is not a number. My son has dreams, my son joined the Army and believed in Duty-Honor-Country, but our leadership doesn’t feel the same about our troops.
Where is the “Duty” to the troops to provide them with all the needed supplies, health care and mental health support?
Where is the “Honor” to the troops that have died in Iraq or Afghanistan? The public will never see all the flagged draped coffins coming into the airports across the country. Do you even honor them with flying the flag at half-mast over the US Capital? No, because it would always be at half-mast and our leadership would have to be reminded everyday. Why don’t they show the countless wounded with missing limbs and burned bodies that fill our military hospitals?
Where is the “Country” behind our troops? Our country sends packages and puts yellow ribbons on their cars that say, “Support the Troops” and truly believe this is supporting the troops. Yet, ask them why are we in Iraq or do you know how many are coming home and committing suicide from PTSD. Do you know how many are wounded everyday and will need life time care. It’s not our country that will be taking care of our wounded loved ones. It will be us the parents, the spouses and the children of our wounded that will take on this challenge.
You will have quit reading this e-mail by now. You will have scanned it, look sad for a moment, shaken your head and think it must be tough. Then you will ask your co-work what are we having for lunch and bitch because you are so busy that your over priced coffee is now cold.
At the end of the day, our loved ones will still be just numbers to our leadership.
Proud parents of a soldier in Iraq