One Day — ‘Memories are Short’

May 28, 2012

Welcome Memorial Day 2012.

In Afghanistan, where war has raged seemingly forever, and where US GIs have been maimed and killed for near 11 years, comes the family-gathering-remembrance of a NATO airstrike that wiped out an entire family — dad, mom, six kids: “Shafi was not a Taliban. He was not in any opposition group against the government. He was a villager,” Samon said. “Right now, we are working on this case to find out the ages of their children and how many of them are boys and girls.”

Via this age of perpetual war, comes the report of a record 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking compensation for service-related injuries, and ultimately, will most-likely be hung out to dry:

The real burden, however, may become apparent only 30 or 40 years from now, when the cost of caring for disabled veterans is multipled by the effects of old age.
Harvard economist Linda Bilmes estimates that it will amount to $600 billion to $900 billion overall.
“This is a huge number and there’s no money set aside,” Bilmes says.
“Unless we take steps now into some kind of fund that will grow over time, it’s very plausible many people will feel we can’t afford these benefits we overpromised. … There’s [presently] a lot of sympathy and a lot of people want to help.
But memories are short and times change.”

Yes, indeed — one must take in account this asshole comment in reference to US soldiers: As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have—not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.—You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up…
These conflicts this past decade-plus where not wars of need, but of choice — US leaders are shamed before all those memorial services being held today all across this country, and there are no real reasons for it.
A shame.

And as usual for this particular day, I enlist Mark Twain to establish a sense of the horror with an passage from ‘The War Prayer,’ his ode to all death-dealing operations.
Bullet quote:

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.
O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.

And amen.

Tom Engelhardt at Tomdispatch has a post on the spill of memorial-memories for the coming years.
Noted snip:

This has been the road to oblivion and it’s paved with forgotten bodies.
Forgetfulness, of course, comes at a price, which includes the escalating long-term costs of paying for the American war-wounded and war-traumatized.
On this Memorial Day, there will undoubtedly be much cant in the form of tributes to “our heroes” and then, Tuesday morning, when the mangled cars have been towed away, the barbeque grills cleaned, and the “heroes” set aside, the forgetting will continue.
If the Obama administration has its way and American special operations forces, trainers, and advisors in reduced but still significant numbers remain in Afghanistan until perhaps 2024, we have more than another decade of forgetting ahead of us in a tragedy that will, by then, be beyond all comprehension.

The best way to avoid such a future is to end these bullshit conflicts all over the freakin’ globe against an enemy who main problem is the US being where we’re not wanted — bring the boys and girls home now!

And amen.

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