A chilling article in yesterday’s Washington Post states that President Bush plans to ask congress for another $50 billion to fund the Iraq war after Gen. Petraeus reports in mid-September on the effects of the surge.
The Post article quotes a speech Bush gave earlier to the American Legion convention in Reno, Nev. where our optimistic leader said: "There are unmistakable signs that our strategy is achieving the objectives we set out. The momentum is now on our side."
Assisting in Bush’s campaign, Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary and Freedom’s Watch, his new pro-Iraq war group, is running an ad blitz to pump up wavering Republican congressional support.
Salon’s Joe Conason explains how the Freedom’s Watch ads repeat the false message that America invaded Iraq to fight the terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers on 9/11, while also selling the bizarre notion that the only way to honor those who have already sacrificed their lives (3734 at this writing) is to continue sending American soldiers to their deaths.
We’ve heard it all before. The Bush Administration has repeatedly urged staying the course in Iraq, arguing that withdrawing before victory has been declared would nullify the sacrifice of Americans who have already given their lives.
And we’ve all heard anguished family members pleading for completing the mission to ensure their loved ones will not have died in vain.
Despite these heart-wrenching appeals to our emotions, most Americans are now skeptical of the official reasons for invading Iraq, and a majority wants out.
All pretext aside, we also know that no one can guarantee the outcome of the war in Iraq or how that strife-torn nation will eventually be governed.
What we do know with certainty is that grieving families will continue the search for meaning in the deaths of their loved ones.
Until they dropped the feature some time ago, the CBS Evening News offered profiles of “Fallen Heroes” (archived online). Cory R. Depew was fairly typical:
“In his last days before heading to war, Cory Depew helped build a church peace garden.
“‘It had trees and bushes and benches where people can sit,’ said his mother, Ann May. ‘He worked so hard on that garden, and it is such a nice place to relax now.’
“Depew, 21, of Beech Grove, Ind., was killed Jan. 4, 2005, when his vehicle was struck by a grenade in Mosul.
“Depew knew he wanted to be a soldier since eighth grade, his mother said. He enlisted in 2003 and was stationed at Fort Lewis.
“He is survived by an 18-month-old son.
“While last at home, Depew talked about his Army training to a class at his younger brothers' grade school and spent time with his son.
“‘He was one of those different people that were friends with everybody,’ said high school classmate Sarah Smith. ‘It doesn't matter what type of music you listened to, how you looked, what you dressed like, where you came from — he was friends with you.’”
The longer I studied CBS’s profiles of the fallen, the more convinced I became that how they died mattered far less than how they lived.
It might be said these brave men and women died in vain, but no one will ever be able to say they lived in vain. The memories of those who hold them in their hearts prove otherwise.
Let’s keep that thought in mind this September, six years post-9/11, and instead of supporting the Bush Administration’s appeals to fund more carnage – both military and civilian in Iraq – let’s rededicate ourselves to the cause of peace and let our congressional leaders know it’s time to rein in our so-called war president and bring the troops home.
NOTE: I’m a veteran of the United States Air Force and all told, my family and I have given about a hundred years to the military.