As I sat watching a politically charged episode of Law & Order: SVU that brought with it other emotions I have yet to make myself familiar with, the war in Iraq came into my home in ways it hasn't through the nightly news. For those of you who weren't watching television last night, the plot line involved victims of a very personal robbery one of whom was an American soldier serving in Iraq while her husband attempted to live his life at home without her. This woman had left a safeguard at home in the event that she didn't return from Iraq so the love of her life could always have a piece of her. That safeguard, in the form of cryogenically frozen embryos, was stolen.
She was an American soldier leaving her home and family knowing that there was a possibility she wouldn't be returning.
At the end of last night's episode the young husband was followed to the airport by the detectives attempting to arrest him for fatally shooting the man who self-righteously stole the safeguard he and his wife held so dear and there he stood as his wife's casket was lowered from a cargo plane.
Our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, and friends are coming home in caskets. They aren't coming home to start families and continue their lives. They are coming home in caskets. 3,931 of them.
Hours before Law & Order I noticed a link to the Iraq casualties and thought I might take a moment to learn of the Idahoans that have lost their lives in our irresponsible occupation of Iraq. Before I was able to scroll down to Idaho I was physically sick. 3,931 is just a number until you scroll through their names. 3,931 is just a number until you come to a name you recognize.
Last night as the fictional husband questioned why back at the courthouse the press hounded the criminals and at the airport his wife's arrival brought no observers other than the military officials transferring her body were there to take notice of a true tragedy I realized what 3,931 really means.
3,931 means men like Curtis Hall of Burley, Idaho. 3,931 means kids like Michael Sturdivant of Conway, Arkansas who died today at the age of twenty in a vehicle accident in Kirkuk. 3,931 means our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, and friends.
It is going to take more than a Law & Order episode to make us realize what a quagmire we are in, but it shouldn't take more than 3,931 killed in action in Iraq. We shouldn't have been there in the first place.