I hope you will indulge me this Christmas post. It's not a fun one. You may want to read it tomorrow.
This is Staff Sgt. Oscar Medina. He was with the 25th Infantry Division in Iraq.
On May 1 of this year, he was killed, along with Spc. Ramon Candelario Ojeda, who was 22, when their convoy was attacked Al Amarah in southeastern Iraq.
I got an email from my father today. He was watching George Stephanopolous this morning, and they mentioned a 59 year old sergeant who was killed last week in Iraq. My parents have a friend was forced out of retirement from the reserves at the age of 55-- they threatened to cut off his retirement benefits-- and sent. My old friend Garrett Johnson, a guy who was my college roommate in 1982, two years before Sgt. Medina was born, was sent last year at the age of 42. He expects to be sent again next year, by which time he'll be 44.
My father pointed out in his email that by the end of WWII, the Germans were sending old men and young boys into battle.
Today's list of war dead in the New York Times today has two names. Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Burgess of Sanford, Michigan, who was 21, and Lance Cpl. Ryan L. Mayhan, of Hawthorne, California, who was 25.
I am 45. These guys could literally be my kids.
I checked the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count today. There was a death today there. Christmas Day is going to be a sad day from now on for some unfortunate family.
According to the website, as of today, there were 2,972 American dead in Iraq. There were 2,997 victims of 9/11. Remember back when 9/11 was the rationale for this war? Remember Weapons of Mass Destruction? It almost seems quaint.
Soon, though, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield and their lot will soon have done the unbelievable: gotten more Americans killed than Osama Bin Laden did.
Not only have Americans-- and men and women from our "coalition"-- been killed, they've also been wounded. Horrific wounds. With the excellent medical care our military has developed, men and women are surviving wounds they would not have survived even in the last Iraq war in 1991. There is a stream of amputees, and people with grievous body and brain injuries coming out of military hospitals.
This war has been a disaster on many levels. To say it has destabiized Iraq is an understatement. 12,000 Iraqi policemen have been killed, along with tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Shiiite and Sunni death squads, some composed of renegade policemen and soldiers, are running wild. Ethnic cleansing, Iraqi style, is driving Sunni and Shiite into segregated neighborhoods. The Al Queda, non-existant in Saddam-era Iraq, is all over Iraq now.
Because of the drain of soldiers and resources from Afghanistan, a failed state that was actually a threat to the United States, the Taliban is resurging there.
I had a pretty nice Christmas, and I hope everybody else did too. Just keep in mind that there were 2,972 families here that had a Christmas tinged with sadness. And at least one who had the saddest Christmas of all.
New Year's is coming up. I usually don't do resolutions, but this year I'm going to have at least one-- to do what I can do to keep so many families from having a sad Christmas next year. Let's bring these people home.