Monday, March 24, 2008
Generally, I am not given to overt gestures of sentimentality, and even less often to displays of militaristic, nationalistic, pride.
However, on the way home tonight, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” was playing excerpts from the messages of family and friends of fallen soldiers. It crept into my consciousness slowly...and then I suddenly realized that I wasn't listening to the usual programming anymore. So why this broadcast on this day? Because sometime between today and yesterday, the death toll in Iraq (American deaths) rose to 4,000.
4,000 is a vast number of lives, too many to consider as singular individuals, while seeing their memorials and eulogies in print is reductive to the point of redundancy; four or five lines in black and white cannot convey the depth of a life. That’s why NPR’s broadcast of messages was so powerful. The memories shared aren’t being intoned by a professional broadcaster’s carefully neutral voice, instead they are the voices of those left behind, those for whom even speaking a name aloud can provoke a slew of memories. There are hitches and odd pauses as one memory slides into another; and suddenly the war isn’t about propaganda and ideology, it is about the weight of each life.
The memories, though American, serve as a reminder of the costs borne on all sides of our war...a war which Bush still asserts we're winning, "...this is a fight that America can and must win.”
Click on the title for a link to the NPR piece, it's only 3 minutes and 38 seconds long.
*the pictured image is from the project “Eyes Wide Open,” a project of the American Friends Service Committee. Since 1917, the American Friends Service Committee has championed the dignity and worth of every individual, the sanctity of human life and humanity's collective responsibility to promote peace. www.afsc.org.