Reflect on soldiers not coming home for holidays
December 20, 2006
For nearly 3,000 families across the United States, there will be an empty seat at the table this holiday season that will never be filled.
Nearly 3,000 U.S. sailors, soldiers, Marines and members of the reserve have died in President Bush's Iraq War.
And the war goes on every day, claiming more lives.
It is our moral duty to reflect on this needless, terrible sacrifice.
It is also our moral duty to reflect on the more than 21,000 wounded soldiers living in hospitals, calling a nurse to feed or clean them or eating their dinner from a wheelchair at the family table.
And it is our moral duty to reflect on the pain on the other side, as well.
Christian, Muslim or otherwise, Iraqis have lost as many as 650,000 of their people, mostly civilians, according to a Johns Hopkins study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Where is the outrage?
Some people think things will be better next year with a new Congress. After all, on Nov. 7, voters issued a mandate. They voted to end the war and bring the troops home.
And yet, what we hear from even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is that the Democrats will go along with a proposed "surge" in troops to Baghdad. The president wants to send 20,000 or more U.S. soldiers there, when even former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Joint Chiefs recognize the folly of such a mission.
Sending more troops won't solve the problem. But it will make the U.S. and Iraqi civilian death toll mount.
That is not what the American people voted for.
This holiday season, we have much to redress before we can celebrate.
It is our right to protect our well-being and the well-being of those we love. Protecting the well-being of those our government is destroying -- with our tax money and the name of freedom -- is our moral obligation.
Three thousand dead and 21,000 wounded should give us pause this holiday season. Not only to reflect on how so much has been lost, but also to remember that there is so much yet to save.
Camilo Mejia is a former prisoner of conscience, Iraq war veteran, war resister and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (www.ivaw.net). He served nine months in confinement for refusing to return to Iraq after a two-week leave. He is author of the forthcoming "Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia" (New Press, Spring 2007). He can be reached at email@example.com.