Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Can No More Win a War.....

Than you can win an Earthquake.--Jeanette Rankin

Everyone has a story about September 11, 2001. Everyone can tell you where they were, what they were doing, who they were with. For my generation it is the event that will define us. It is our assassination of JFK or bombing of Pearl Harbor. (FYI, I was in a Chemistry lab during the 9/11 attacks, heard about it on the radio in Ovid's Cafe, and then watched the coverage on the TV in the lobby of my dorm.)

That was 7 years ago. And since then, we have been at war. But I forget sometimes that we are at war. I think sometimes we get so used to seeing pictures, hearing the numbers, that we forget what war really is. We forget that it is more than numbers and maps and exit strategies. War is people.

We had a seminar today at work about TBI being one of the most prevalent injuries in the Iraq war. The speaker talked about the various ways that our soldiers sustain traumatic head injuries (mostly from IED explosions). He talked about explosions going off while soldiers are riding in convoys, about marines jumping on top of bombs to save their friends, about suicide bombers and car bombs and mortar shells. And somewhere in the middle of all that, while he was showing us photos of bombs and cars and soldiers, it sank in just what we were talking about. We were talking about human beings.

It is easy to think of the numbers. This many dead, this many injured, this many still on the ground. It is even easy to think of the stats. But when you realize that each of those numbers is a person--someone with a mother and father, a family--it becomes much harder. When I start thinking about these guys (and girls) most of whom are about my age, and what they see and do on a daily basis, it makes you stop and think.

Whether or not you agree with the war, whether or not you think we should send more troops to Iraq or bring them all home, you have to admit that the cost of this war (as with all wars) will extend far beyond the dollar value attached to it. You can't put a value on human life. So the next time you see a report on the news, try to think beyond the numbers. Try to remember that all those numbers are people.

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