War Notes

Nearly 900 children have lost a parent in Iraq, according to this story (link via Kos):

Although comparably specific historical data is not available for other U.S. wars, military experts said the proportionally higher number of American children left bereaved by the Iraq war is unprecedented.

"This is a new state of affairs we have to confront," said Charles Moskos, a leading
military sociologist and Northwestern University professor.

Overall, Americans in uniform today are far more likely to be married and have children than in the military of the past, Moskos and others said. And the reliance in Iraq on reserve forces _ who tend to be older and even more settled than active-duty soldiers _ also means more offspring at home.


"As much as we are concerned about veterans' programs, we now have to be concerned about orphan programs," Moskos said. "This is the first time we have crossed this threshold."
This story just about tore me in two. I’m left swimming in images of the children who will never see their parents again, and images of orphaned and dead Iraqi children, and I wonder what the hell is the point of this whole goddamned mess.

Perhaps most heartbreaking are the more than 40 troops who died without ever seeing their children. At least 34 wives were pregnant _ four with twins _ when their husbands died, and another 15 had babies while their spouses were deployed. While some of the latter were able to return home on paternity leave, most died before they could.

Among those who never once held their babies was Army 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler, 25, of Abilene, Texas, who was killed in March when a roadside bomb hit his armored personnel carrier near Habbaniyah. In his uniform pocket, Hufstedler carried a sonogram picture of his unborn daughter, the only image he would ever have of Grace Ashley, who arrived six weeks after his death.
While the thought of a man who never got to see his child, a child who will never get to meet her father, is indeed truly heartbreaking, the part of the article that was the most difficult for me was this:

Despite their losses, [most] surviving spouses say they still support the war. They say they are profoundly proud of their loved ones' willingness to give their lives for their country and to help bring democracy to Iraq. That pride helps their children cope as well.

Virginia Collier, of Harrison, Ark., found great solace in her husband's undimmed belief that the Iraq war was not only justified, but also engendering more good than the media has portrayed. A father of four, her husband, Army National Guard Sgt. Russell Collier, 48, was killed Oct. 3 trying to help a fellow soldier under fire in Taji, Iraq.

"He died doing what he loved," Veronica Collier told a local newspaper.
I am genuinely glad that the widows and widowers of these soldiers can comfort themselves by believing their spouses died for a just cause. I’m glad that the soldiers felt they were fighting a necessary war. I’m proud of and grateful for the men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line on behalf of people like me, who enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice without having to compromise anything of our own.

But I don’t feel like we’ve become safer because of this war, and I don’t believe the Iraqi people are better off because of this war. I think the entire thing is a tragic folly designed by a group of very self-interested and misguided men, and that it was completely avoidable. I believe that we are ignoring greater threats while our focus is kept on this increasingly unwinnable conflict.

So what comfort do I have that soldiers are giving their lives for this madness, that children are giving their parents? I have none, and perhaps some would say I deserve none—that I have no right to want comfort.

But I do have a right; this war is being waged in my name, in the name of all Americans, and I can find no solace as long as it rages on.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus