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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend: Contemplating Iraq War Casualties


Last night I watched HBO's Baghdad ER. It's a graphic, hard-hitting, moving and realistic account of what it's like for U.S. medical personnal stationed in the Green Zone and those they treat for war wounds of all kinds. Often bloody and gruesome, the show was shot in the ER, IED Alley and other locations in Baghdad. It follows doctors, surgeons, techs and nurses over a span of two months where they try to cheat death treating those seriously wounded and patch up others, both physically and emotionally.

The show will be rerun many times on the various HBO stations, including special airings to honor Memorial Day. Here's a New York Times description of the program. You can also watch the show online at Information Clearinghouse. And here's a video of a news story about the mother of one of the servicemen who dies during the show, and how the segment on her son provided her with touching facts about his final hours.

The medical personnel offer mostly sad and angry statements about the war and its senseless casualties that enter the medical facility day after day after day. It's a testament to the courage and skill of all involved, from lowly grunt to top-notch surgeon. Clearly, the veterans of this conflict, as with others from past wars, will be in need of large-scale medical, spiritual, emotional and vocational support for decades to come. I only hope they get it from a nation practically bankrupted by Bush and his cronies and their achingly brutal decisions.

It was very difficult and upsetting to watch this show, to witness the horrendous carnage being caused by such an unnecessary and misguided war. As always, those lowest on the totem poll are made to suffer for the arrogance and hunger for power of those at the top, far from the realities of IED's, snipers, suicide bombers and gun battles. As I watched the show I kept seeing the wise-ass faces of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Bush himself, essentially immune from the consequences of their selfish, short-sighted, dishonest decisions that are killing and maiming thousands.

The : 2464 American troops killed (including 60 so far this month); 17,869 American troops wounded in action (including 403 last month). An estimated 4715 Iraqi police and military have been killed along with uncountable tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

Crosses for US military deaths in Iraq at

Necessary wars, if there is such a thing, are bad enough. Wars of choice, like this one, represent what is, perhaps, the very worst of human nature -- the lowest rungs of ego-based stupidity, the most unnecessary shedding of blood caused by those who put ideology before plain common sense. In addition to all the bbq's and picnics and outings this weekend, we should pause to remember the painful and wasteful carnage of wars past and present, and honor those who pay the price, on the field of battle and off. Some possibilities:

Any Soldier: care packages for the troops

Armed Forces Relief Trust: supporting troops and families in need

Fisher House: housing for families of hospitalized members of the military

Gold Star Families for Peace: families of soldiers who died in war working to stop further deaths

Help Our Troops Call Home: Prepaid phone cards

Operation Hero Miles: Donate frequent flier miles to fly troops home

Operation Truth: Represents Iraq & Afghanistan vets and families

Iraq Veterans Against the War: Working to stop the carnage

Veterans for Peace: Working for peace and justice (offers 10 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day)

VA Voluntary Services: Coordinates volunteers and gifts for vets in the VA system

Just Give Guide: Listing of legitimate organizations that help veterans (one click giving)

New Mexico Veterans' Memorial: Make a gift to honor a NM vet

May 28, 2006 at 11:22 AM in Iraq War | Permalink


I watched this yesterday and it was so very sad. All that lost youth, life, limbs, and for what? The power yens of chickenhawks.

Posted by: I Vote | May 29, 2006 1:10:11 PM

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