Afghan war dead, a senseless waste

May 30, 2012

The Memorial Day listing of those U.S. servicemen and women who died in Afghanistan over the past year hit me with the same numb despair that I remember feeling when I first saw the black granite Vietnam Memorial. The solemn reality of the Afghan War's cost is staggering. I had no idea so many had fallen since last Memorial Day.

As an American, I'm appalled by this tragic loss of life — and for what? As much as I would like to understand the meaning of the Afghan War, I just can't. We finally caught and executed Osama bin Laden, but he was not in Afghanistan, by the way. So for what noble cause did these brave, patriotic Americans die? Someone, please explain.

I'm sorry you failed to note after the names, rank, age and hometowns of the war dead whether they were from the regular military or from their state's National Guard. I've been disturbed by the way our military poaches the Guard but understand the logic behind this "back door draft." It is appalling that not one governor has spoken out on the subject and it's time someone at state level brands the slaughter of their citizens unconscionable. Of course, we know the reason for the back door draft: The U.S. militarywised up after the Vietnam War protests and didn't want a repeat. Grabbing the National Guard was a clever way around any massive anti-war demonstrations. Shame on us for allowing this to happen!

The last person to subdue Afghanistan was Alexander the Great, but that was thousands of years ago — and he wasn't in the area to win the "hearts and minds" of tribal factions. I'm not anti-war and it would never occur to me to protest the actions of our military, but where are the members of Congress who ultimately decide when and where to declare war? They've been missing in action while our young men and women are cut down, or will be spending the rest of their lives with hideous scars, both physical and mental. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with this picture!

Even candidates for the upcoming presidential election have been conspicuously silent on the subject of Afghanistan and Iraq. I grieve for the families and friends of the fallen, and I grieve for those who have been injured in the conflict. But above all I grieve for my country.

Rosalind Ellis Heid, Baltimore

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