...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
      ( 11:42 AM )
A Fit Honor

For an end-of-the-year tribute, the Army Times published the pictures of all the slain soldiers that have died in the war in Iraq this year. The total numbers more than 500. Jimmy Breslin has a good commentary on why the Army Times was right to do this.

There were 506 killed by the time the newspaper
closed last Friday. Since then, another seven have
died. The newspaper has said this is the deadliest
year for the U.S. military since 1972, when 640 were
killed in Vietnam.


The chilling photos run at a time when the
government tries to describe the war as a civic
venture, and nearly all of the news industry doesn't
know how to object. This probably is the worst
failure to inform the public that we have seen. The
Pekingese of the Press run clip-clop along the hall
to the next government press conference.


And the dead are brought back here almost
furtively. There are no ceremonies or pictures of
caskets at Dover, Del., air base, where the dead
are brought. "You don't want to upset the
families," George Bush said. That the people might
be slightly disturbed already by the death doesn't
seem to register.

The wounded are flown into Washington at night.
There are 5,000 of them and for a long time you
never heard of soldiers who have no arms and legs.
Then the singer Cher went into Walter Reed Hospital
and came out and gave a report that was so
compelling she should walk away with a Pulitzer Prize.

Finally, a couple of television stations and a
newspaper here and there began to cover these
things. There are miles to go.

For now, Cher, on one day, and the Army Times for
the whole year, have served the nation as it should
be served.

Thanks to Atrios for the link. He also links to a transcript of Cher's phone call to CSPAN describing what she saw at Walter Reed.

I find it most heartening that the Army Times recognizes all who have died:

"They died at the hands of the enemy, from illnesses
contracted in the war zones and the accidents that
inevitably push human beings and their equipment to
their limit."

On the rare occasion that the press does report on the fallen, they often leave out anyone who wasn't directly killed by enemy fire. This is an untrue and inaccurate portrayal of those who have given their lives. Whether hit by a bullet, trapped in a flipped motor vehicle or felled by a terrible desert illness, each one of these has died serving in a war zone they didn't need to be in. It's time the country becomes fully aware of the true cost of this war. Bush will keep trying to hide it from us, but it's our duty to hammer home the truth again and again.

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