Cliff Beattie’s parents spoke to the local news reporter outside their house in Medical Lake, Washington last Tuesday. His father’s voice quivered with the kind of choked reluctance you get when pressed to utter what you hoped you’d never have to. He can feel Cliff’s spirit, he said, in calm moments, a sign they take to their broken hearts that their son is at peace. One of Cliff’s two children will graduate from high school in a few weeks, perhaps with images in mind of her father’s final moments before the improvised explosive device took his life in Baghdad.
Twenty five year old Brandon M. Kirton, a Corporal serving in Kandahar province in Afghanistan, died the Wednesday before from wounds he suffered in a fire fight. His infant daughter, who he named Heaven, will never know her father, but is sure to hear stories from his friends and family who wrote about him on a memorial Facebook page, that his laughter and love was ever-present.
Private Thomas Allers from the 27th Infantry Division was only 23 years old and a mere three weeks into his first tour in Afghanistan. He lost his life along with three of his fellow soldiers from another explosive device, buried just beneath the dirt on the arid land in Kunar Province that he never should have been sent to set foot on.
The bombs that came thundering down from a NATO war plane, flattening two civilian homes in Helmond Province, murdered two women and twelve children. The tribal elders carried out the stiff corpses of the slain infants and toddlers to show to journalists, presumably in the hopes that somebody out there might see the footage and pity their sorrow and injustice, having never done harm to deserve death by aerial machinery. The five girls, seven boys, and two women were packed into rows in the bed of a dusty truck draped with blankets.
Eighteen more civilians were reported dead in similar airstrikes that day in Nouristan, far North West of Helmond. We won’t know their names. No memorial web pages will be visited in their honor. No national day of respect for their sacrifice will establish itself for Americans to observe.
Ask a politician why these deaths were necessary and they’ll regurgitate shopworn platitudes about freedom, American values, so-called humanitarian warfare, and fighting terrorism. Ask an average American, they will first ask, “What deaths?” They may then repeat what they’ve been told by their overlords in Washington. The honest ones will admit they don’t know what good it’s done. Ask an Afghan, and he is likely to have no idea at all the motivation behind the invasion, the attacks, or the occupation.
Even the informed won’t have a good answer. They will speculate about geo-strategic interests, big business, perhaps the limits of collective action.
All this ignorance about something our government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on. Decades of financial investment, high technology, oversized guns, and bombs with brains; the cutting edge. Yet it’s hard to find a good answer to why it’s necessary to fight and occupy the poor, rural, uneducated Afghans.
Memorial Day services will speak of valor, of sacrifice, of a higher purpose. Not a one will ably justify these wars and the ends they seek. Caught in their ignorance, resorting to triteness and the same language lent for every war which preceded this one, which seems to have no boundaries itself, you will hear no reasons.
Each year passes, and each year a sizable portion of your income (you can calculate how much here) goes to the perpetuation of what will ultimately mean more sons and daughters never knowing their father’s touch, more parents with a weakened quiver in their voice, and more taut, premature bodies piled in trucks.
This year, do something different. Take a portion of that amount you give to the conductors of wars nobody understands, and donate it to antiwar.com. We fight for an end to this murder and destruction; we work to get some accountability for those that insist on its continuance; and we desperately need your help to keep it going.