26.10.05

It happened

It happened. The 2,000th US soldier has died in Iraq. Staff Sgt George T Alexander Jr. I mention his name in order to remind that he, and the other 1,999 statistics are not just that.

Each one of those 2,000 soldiers had parents. Most had husbands or wives, girlfriends or boyfriends. Most had brothers and sisters. Some had children. All had friends, neighbours, comrades-in-arms. Some had pets. They were grouchy some mornings, happy others. They had bad breath if they didn't brush their teeth. They made people laugh. They probably made people angry from time to time - we all do. They farted, they belched, they had fun, they were probably sometimes a little mean, sometimes a little saintly. In short, they were human.

2,000 human beings is an almost impossibly large number to comprehend. We think we know what it means, but we rarely come close. Most people don't speak to 2,000 different people in the course of a decade or more of life. Most people don't really know 200 people, let alone 2,000.

This is 2,000:

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And it's not 0's we're talking about. It's filled graves and empty seats at thanksgiving.

It would be nice to think that both sides of the debate might pause for a while - maybe a minute - to reflect on that before they either leap on Staff Sgt Alexander's coffin as a political symbol, or dismiss him as an "artificial mark on the wall".

He was nor is neither. He was so much more than that to those who knew him.

As an atheist, I don't pray. It's like a membership requirement. But I hope that Staff Sgt Alexander's friends and family are republicans. At least that way, they can believe he, and all the others, died defending freedom.

1 comment:

Portia said...

Hi. Clicked on your "just published" thingie on blogger home.

Very powerful, very true.
Thank you.