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'Do You Think He's Dead, Mom?'


AntiWar.com
By Dr. Teresa Whitehurst

The call came late at night. My youngest child called from college, her trademark perky voice suddenly tense, halting.

"I haven't heard from D. since last Tuesday. When I talked to him, he said he couldn't say much over the phone anymore, or on e-mail. He sounded strange, like something was wrong, but he wouldn't tell me what was up. I thought maybe he was just depressed – he's depressed all the time now, and isn't allowed to tell me where he's being sent or how he's being used – but he hasn't answered any of my e-mails, which he always does. So I wondered if you could – do you think he's dead, Mom?"

The phone went silent. I visualized her, sitting on her dorm bed, trying not to cry. She's a girl who doesn't like to cry. She's always been that way. Even in preschool, for some reason she just didn't like to "give in" to tears. So I knew that she was really hurting.

I heard a sniffle on the other end of the phone, and then she said quickly, "A lot of soldiers got killed this last week in Iraq. I know you've found some Web site where you can find out what their names are. I was wondering, could you check for me?"

"Sure, I'll do it right away. I'll call you back, Honey."

I went to the DoD Web site, the one that publishes the list of all the American kids killed for George W. Bush's "noble cause."

As I was looking at the Web page, I remembered the last time I saw that boy, a charming kid whose family had endured much tragedy and poverty, yet managed to raise a polite, kind child. I remember him hugging my daughter good-bye before being shipped off to the killing streets of Iraq. He was tall and muscular, with dark brown skin and gleaming white teeth. He always called me "ma'am," and would do anything for us.

The .pdf file was just a bunch of numbers. Sorry, but it's true. Politicians love numbers; they can argue that there aren't enough dead kids to worry about, or that there are too many. Pollsters and strategists will dicker about how many military casualties the American public "will tolerate."

But anyone who's felt that fear about someone they love in Iraq knows that numbers aren't want you're looking for. What you want is names. There is one person in all of Iraq, and that's the face that's smiling back at you in an old photo, there in your mind's eye. A face that suddenly, in brief lightning flashes of a terror Mr. and Mrs. Bush know nothing about, is being zipped into a shiny black body bag.

But that's when you have to gather your wits together. You've got to steel yourself for what you might see. You need a cup of coffee, then check those names. Check for one name. THE name.

Then I found the page that lists the names of the soldiers killed this week – yesterday included – but it's a nerve-wracking experience because you have to click onto each link titled only, "DoD Identifies Army Casualty."

Holding my breath, I clicked on the first noble-cause casualty. No, that lad, at 22, was a year older than the boy I was looking for, and he was killed in Afghanistan, not Iraq. But I imagine how it feels to those who love him to read the feel-good message atop his name:

"The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom."

I clicked onto the next one. No, this youth was in the Marines, not the Army. The noble-cause mantra above his name reads:

"The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom."

And so it went. Many clicks and much anger and sorrow at all the wasted young lives later, I called my daughter to tell her the good news: I hadn't seen the name of her friend yet.

What I didn't add was the bad news: that, until Americans stop supporting "the war president," I will have to use the word "yet."

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Is so heart wrenching and so true. This war monger must be stopped. I wish I knew how.

I can feel the terror gripping your poor daughter's heart. I wake up sometimes in a cold sweat worrying about my son when I haven't heard from him in days. I remember breaking down when a strange, dark green car pulled into my driveway one evening. Tell me, Mr. Bush, that you understand that kind of paralyzing fear. Tell me that you know how we feel. This "noble cause" is a blot on American history.

Do what Cindy Sheehan does - speak out for the end of this murderous regime. Get involved in local anti war activities.

We can end the "YET" continuum.

Insist that your congress stop this insanity.

Your daughter is lucky to have you. My mother and I don't talk about the war, eventhough I have a close friend over there. She supports Bush and I haven't gotten the strength up yet to page through looking for my friend.

The right wingnuts have made a continuing, albeit unsupported by fact or logic, brazen and fallacious assertion that the Viet Nam War:

1. Wasn't really an American denouement; the US actually won, but the left-wing press has maintained a big lie lo these 30 years.

2. Showed an inherent weakness on the part of the US citizenry

3. Was a product of Jane Fonda's moment in North Viet Nam and four or five hundred pansy left-wingers who travelled from Univ. to Univ. and demo to demo...

And, because we weren't watching closely enough again, we are condemned to repeat the past.

This time the perps who brought this war on must face real jail time (orange and cuffed). Nothing short of conviction is acceptable.

I must have read over a hundred blogs tonight. I have to say, the internet will save our world from the insanity of our so-called leaders.

It makes me smile to see the hundreds of thousands of people talking to each other all over the world.

Keep it up!

In this country, we seem to be coming together and doing something about these crooks and liars. I hope Fitzgerald is as courageous as they say he is.

May God bless Cindy Sheehan for her courage!

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