Friday, January 27, 2006

Sacrifice Update

As of today, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq stands at 2,239. A link to the constantly updated casualty count is here. Of course, this doesn't include the many thousands of troops who have lost arms, legs, hands, feet and eyes.

At this pace, we'll have lost about 3,000 troops by the end of this year. We're losing an average of over fifteen a week. How many people realize that? Or is it a case of no caskets photographed, thus no sacrifice? Some certainly understand the out of sight, out of mind dynamic. Read about that here.

If that story pisses you off as much as it does me, counter it in any way possible. Email the casualty count link to friends and family, ask people at work and church whether they realize we're losing fifteen troops a week, post the number of KIA's on your front lawn, and ask your local business owners to post it in their store windows. Yellow ribbons look nice. But they don't convey much about the degree of sacrifice, do they?

42 Comments:

Blogger chris bray said...

And it's not just the servicemembers who are being killed. Improved body armor and battlefield medicine are getting people home alive who would have been killed in other wars -- but with horrible injuries. It's well worth taking the time to read the NYT's recent story about Jason Poole, a 23 year-old marine who was injured in an IED explosion:

"Reconstructive surgery should have been done soon after the explosion, before broken bones could knit improperly. But the blast had caused an artery in Corporal Poole's skull to balloon into an aneurysm, and an operation could have ruptured it and killed him. By November 2004, however, the aneurysm had gone away.

"Dr. H. Peter Lorenz, a plastic surgeon at Stanford University Medical Center, planned several operations to repair the damage after studying pictures of Corporal Poole before he was injured. 'You could say every bone in his face was fractured,' Dr. Lorenz said.

"The first operation took 14 hours. Dr. Lorenz started by making a cut in Corporal Poole's scalp, across the top of his head from ear to ear, and peeling the flesh down over his nose to expose the bones. To get at more bone, he made another slit inside Corporal Poole's mouth, between his upper lip and his teeth, and slipped in tools to lift the tissue.

"Many bones had healed incorrectly and had to be sawed apart, repositioned and then joined with titanium pins and plates. Parts of his eye sockets had to be replaced with bone carved from the back of his skull. Bone grafts helped to reposition Corporal Poole's eyes, which had sunk in the damaged sockets.

"Operations in March and July repaired his broken and dislocated jaw, his nose and damaged eyelids and tear ducts. He could not see for a week after one of the operations because his right eye had been sewn shut, and he spent several weeks unable to eat because his jaws had been wired together.

"Dr. Lorenz also repaired Corporal Poole's caved-in left cheek and forehead by implanting a protein made from human skin that would act as a scaffolding and be filled in by Corporal Poole's own cells.

"Later, he was fitted with a false eye to fill out the socket where his left eye had shriveled."

1,700 servicemembers with brain injuries in Iraq. And then we could talk about the amputees...

1/27/2006 3:28 AM  
Blogger Lymond said...

...and then we could talk about the countless - and probably never countable - returnees with mental problems, usually unreported because of macho pressure.

Isn't is lovely how the traditional media stopped reporting the KIA totals all at the same time this past fall shortly after the 2,000 mark was reported and the death rate was increasing. Aren't we all thankful for our "free press!"

1/27/2006 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Death is always a tragic event. But if you are going to count then try these statistics. 40,000 people will be killed in automobile accidents this year in the US. Another 2.3 million will be injured. This is sourced through the Transportation Department. Statistics show us that the vast majority of accidents is caused by drives 18-25 and drivers 70 and older. Thus I think it is fair & safe to assume that perhaps as many as 35% of these fatalities are under 25. Assuming my number is close that amounts to 14,000 Americans of similar age to our soldiers in Iraq dying each year or roughly 270 a week. Let's hang that sign up as well.

1/27/2006 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Always nice to see that the most specious arguments are always posted by the ubiquituous "Anonymous."

Nice job, Anon.

1/27/2006 9:42 AM  
Blogger Spider said...

Hi TCR,

Spider here, you're liberal friend from Queens, NY. I've commented on your blog a number of times and I agree with so much of what you write. Your blog is one of the things that give me hope that good people from both the conservative realm and liberal CAN make a change in this country. Because when you get down to it, ethics is ethics and doing what's right, and smart, is locked in neither the conservative or liberal philosphies.

Also, a lot of times you can write succinctly what it takes me many angry paragraphs to say. And I admire that. (Case in point, your post "Now He Tells Us. . " versus my post "An Inexcusable Flip-Flop.) Though, I'm a bit younger than you and I know I have to work on being a less "angry, young man." But I think that's the Billy Joel curse since I grew up on Long Island. But I digress.

The point of this comment, and I do have one folks, is that I really respect when you post about the casuality numbers of the Iraq war and the cost of the war to the humanity of our soldiers. As I have commented in the past on your posts of this topic, my sister is a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and she served this past year in Iraq.

Thank the stars that she made it home in one piece just before Christmas. However, my sister is not the same woman she was before she left to Iraq. In a way, she is a "casualty" of the Iraq War. She is forever changed by what she experienced over there.

My sister, by the excellence of her skills at what she does, was one of perhaps a handful of females to be in an active combat unit. She saw combat time, had bombs and IED explode around her Hummer. Though she was never injured, she now have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She realizes it and thankfully there is a Veteran's Center in her city where she has started to get counseling. But I know so many veterans who don't have that for them.

I know I should be thankful that my sister is alive, and not maimed, because there are many who aren't. Believe me, my countrymen, I am! But there is a selfish part of this brother that wants the "old sister" back, the sister that didn't have anxiety attacks every day, the sister who could drive in traffic and not freak out because she doesn't have her M-16 with her or armor plating on her vehicle, the sister who knew how to communicate and negotiate rather than argue and fight.

I know that I have to accept the change in her, and that things will get better as she goes through counseling and talks with other veterans about re-adjusting to civilian life. (I really hope that my sister has the opportunity to listen to talk with some Vietnam Veterans so she can hear their wisdom of years.) But damnit, this Iraq War was a war of choice by this Administration and our troops shouldn't have been there. That is something I will never just accept. And to use my sister, and her fellow soldiers, in an unjust war is beyond unethical.

TCR, thanks for really supporting the troops! I can tell your sincerity in your writing. To the readers of his blog, thank you for your thoughts and comments. So many of you, on both sides of the spectrum, thank for often adding additional insights as well as honest debate.

Sincerely,
Spider

1/27/2006 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Spider-

Thanks for posting that. Best wishes to your sister.

1/27/2006 10:36 AM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Spider, thanks so much for your post. My cousin (in his late 30s, a reserve guy) is on his way to Iraq, unfortunately. I shudder to think what awaits him. He has worked as a mechanic and truck driver for the past 20 years in both the Marines and the USAF, and has served all over the world. Now this, ugh.

What a tragic turn for these folks, including your sister.

At least PBS has not dropped the ball on the KIA list. they have the "Honor Roll" at the end of the News Hour every night with photos, accompanied by silence. I always stop what I am doing to look at the faces and information about these men and women who have made the "ultimate sacrifice" for this horrifying farce.

"Here in silence are 15 more..."

1/27/2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Going back to the anonymous comment (which I am inclined to ignore), I can understand why you post traffic statistics vs. soldiers killed in a stupid war of Bush's choosing, as an anonymous post. And I think you are an asshole. Apples and oranges, just like most of the stupid blather of people who defend this travesty.

1/27/2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Perhaps you should also post "deaths from cancer" to boost your stupid analogy. It would really enhance the "rah-rah war!...spreading democracy!" news crawl on the bottom of the FOX News tv screen.

1/27/2006 12:24 PM  
Anonymous susycal said...

Thanks TCR.

1/27/2006 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. Today, I will ask the places I shop to post this in their windows or other visible place. My biz goes elsewhere if they decline.

1/27/2006 12:33 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thank you Anonymous. Finally, someone who can shut up all these whiney liberals.

But I think you should take this one step further. You should go and spread this wisdom to the people attending military funerals for Iraq casualties. Let them know about how selfish their grief is. And how disproportionate it is compared to the aggregate grief of others who have lost loved ones via other more prolific causes of death.

Seriously. Meet them at the wake and intervene. Perhaps you could put together fliers with graphics comparing Iraq death rates with other causes: Cancer (ala Wendyo), auto accidents, coronary incident, homicide, suicide, etc.

That way they can be shown, in charts and graphs, how solipsistic they are being. How they should accept that a couple thousand soldier deaths can be kept in perspective.

I'm sure all the veterans in attendance, and the families of the deceased, will appreciate your capacity for taking the long view.

After all, what's a few thousand corpses between friends when so many people die from other causes every day. In fact, come to think of it, it's really nothing at all.

Thank you.

-E. Martin

1/27/2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous JWC said...

Thank you CR, but bringing attention to this issue, again. And thank you Spider, for sharing the story about your sister. I wish her well, it sounds like she has a loving family to support her.

1/27/2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Exceptional post. But, there are also tens of thousands of psychological casualties -- many of them going through military rehab before they redeploy.

1/27/2006 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yellow ribbons are "sacrifice-lite."

1/27/2006 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some good suggestions in this post. No more out of sight out of mind!

1/27/2006 2:42 PM  
Blogger Walter E. Wallis said...

Errors of omission can be as bad as errors of commission. If Carter had whacked the Iranians for taking hostages, the Arabs would never have got the idea we were pussies and WTC would stil be standing.

1/27/2006 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

And if the Crusades were successful there'd be no Arabs, period.

Blah, blah, blah.

Got any other strawmen?

1/27/2006 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, and if Carter had whacked the Iranians we'd have had a bunch of dead hostages. Great advice.

1/27/2006 7:06 PM  
Anonymous lilybart said...

Great idea. I live in NYC in an apt building, but I can put the casualty count on my stroller, next to my No W button from the election that I have never removed.

Wonder if a local business would put this up in their window? hhhmmmm

1/27/2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Kimmel showed a clip of some cheerleader tryout for a professional team. The clip is a tryout being asked to name a current event. She could not.

Kimmel also showed a clip of Beauty and the Geek. The clip shows a girl being asked about politics. She described herself as a Democrat. When asked who she voted for in 2004, she said Bush.

Of course we all know about Jay Leno's Jay walking, and what he finds.

A professional baseball player answers the questions to become a US citizen, and says he now knows more than 50% of US citizens. The news anchor that reported the story said it probably more like 75%.

Kathy Griffin says in her comedy show about her USO trip that she found folks from the south are very happy and aggressive regarding their ignorance.

Oprah has a get out an vote show, and many of her guests have never voted, and they are black and have never voted.

I don't know if this is how modern Democracy is suppose to work, but it is concerning how much we don't know, don't care, or are misinformed. But hey, maybe that is the success of our economy.

But if the public is not informed, there are obstacles put in place to make it difficult to get informed, 60% is considered a huge turnout that seldom occurs, and transparency is getting less and less, Presidential powers are expanding unchecked, is that still Democracy.

I would say, that folks in the south or around bases are much more aware of the war, maybe not the reason, but the consequences, than the rest of the population. Other than the couple minutes on CBS news, including the American Hero clip, there is no news about Iraq and most people are unaware we are at war, the consequences that impact others. Like Oprah says, in the media, Brad and Angelina get the same level of importance as does things like the Iraq war and Katrina. This is our society. Sell, sell, money, money. Maybe Barbara Bush was right and people really don't want to put those images and thoughts into our minds. But ain't that Democracy; I mean we need to be informed to partipant, good, bad, and ugly.

1/27/2006 10:43 PM  
Blogger Walter E. Wallis said...

The usual response to a violation of diplomatic imunity is to reciprocate, but Carter allowed both the embassy and the U.N. embassy to continue operating. Every nation friendly to us should have interned Irani diplomatic personnel and embargoed all trade. There are actions short of armed combat to demonstrate displeasure.

1/28/2006 11:54 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

So Walter, if we had shut down the Iranian embassy, then Arabs from neighboring countries who are neither ethnically linked nor religiously linked to the Iranians, would not have attacked us?

Their motivation in attacking us was what it was, but they never would have done anything had they not had a certain impression of us derived largely from Carter's failure to close the Iranian embassy and/or UN presence - which is presumably what you meant by "whack the Iranians."

Amazing. Who knew it was that easy. Thanks.

E. Martin

1/28/2006 12:36 PM  
Blogger Walter E. Wallis said...

That was how is was done for the first 5000 years of diplomacy.

1/29/2006 7:11 PM  
Anonymous TuiMel said...

TCR,
Finally got my sign up in my front window. Will update every Sunday.
Spider, I hope your sister and all her compatriots find their way back to health, happiness, and being whole and being home.

1/29/2006 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Some graphs on casualty rates as of around 1/26, from http://www.pollkatz.homestead.com/.

Overall US and coalition fatality rates: http://tinyurl.com/4unnc

US share of total coalition fatalities: http://tinyurl.com/d4xcu

Projected date of 3,000'th US fatality: http://tinyurl.com/8c5u4

1/30/2006 5:12 PM  
Blogger Chris Arndt said...

I'm wondering what sacrifice means after we sacrifice and then... fail...


but if we sacrifice and succeed...

boy, you people are so negative you're downright hateable almost.

2/03/2006 3:25 AM  
Anonymous J Thomas said...

Chris, what does success mean to you in this case? And what does failure mean in this case?

I hate people who do necromancy. Bush is using the casualties to get his supporters to support him more.

That's sick.

2/03/2006 2:21 PM  
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