Less than two weeks ago, millions of Americans sighed a breath of relief as the three-day holiday weekend approached. We stocked up on hamburger meat and tofu burgers, bought charcoal briquettes and refilled propane tanks. While some went camping, others stayed home; but most of us celebrated paid time off with copious amounts ruffled potato chips, barbecued meat and specialty brews. Once the party was over, we got into our beds, woke up Tuesday morning, went back to work and were grateful that we had a four-day work week ahead.
Despite all the good times to be had on a paid holiday, this particular holiday was highly significant, yet little was done in our backyards and campsites to honor those for whom it was dedicated — the men and women who died while in military service. And now that Memorial Day has come and gone, the need to prevent the unnecessary loss of life should supersede partisan arguments for or against the war.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, there is no denying that thousands of lives are being destroyed for a seemingly futile war on terrorism. The day before Memorial Day, the Department of Defense announced that the death toll of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen was just shy of 5,000 — 4,299 in and around Iraq; 615 in and around Afghanistan; and 67 in other locations.
Every American who saw, read or heard about the Twin Towers being attacked in the worst act of terrorism this country has ever seen will never forget it. Many were ready to pounce on whomever we felt was responsible for such a horrific act, and when George W. Bush announced his order to invade Iraq, many applauded that decision without so much as a flinch. Shortly after, the excuse to invade Iraq, the mission to find those weapons of mass destruction, failed miserably.
Yet many Americans stood behind Bush’s decision to continue the war to bring democracy to a politically corrupt region.
But then the stories began coming in: A dozen U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide bomb attack, several severely wounded in a cross fire, dozens more killed in another attack, and thousands more dead.
Even with the death toll approaching 5,000, most Americans are complacent. Peace activists of today are nothing like what we saw in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. Americans seem to figure that as long as it isn’t happening in our backyards, we don’t need to get involved. We would rather focus on our families, friends and the lives of celebrities than get involved in finding a tangible solution to end the war.
In the midst of either our complacency or our politicizing about the war, one thing that always seems to get overlooked is the tragic loss of so many lives. And for this war especially, with so many extenuating circumstances of confused objectives, we need to get more actively involved. We need to reach out to our legislators and write letters and hold protests to stop these seemingly futile deaths. We need to stop being complacent and realize that if we don’t start doing something more to end this war, another 5,000 deaths could easily creep up without one brow lifted.