Friday, July 07, 2006

Soldier memorials: still going on...

The Anchoress links to a moving description of a military memorial service. She links to a raft of places, but this one gets extra billing in an update, being good enough to be included in American Legion Magazine.

The names of the soldier's squad leader, truck commander, and driver are called by the first sergeant and answered. "Specialist Slaven!" Silence. "Specialist Benjamin Slaven!" Silence. "Specialist Benjamin James Slaven!" BANG! The crack of seven rifles fired in unison causes many to jump. Tears spring to eyes. They fire again, and again, and then the lone bugle plays its dirge.

Soldiers fall into line after a few moments to take a walk across the platform and salute the monument to Specialist Slaven. When it's my turn, I stride slowly, execute a right face, and bring my hand slowly to my brow. As I bring my hand back to my side I'm aware of the moisture in my eyes, which turn down as I execute a left face and leave the platform.

You'll want to read the whole thing, of course.

It reminded me of a similar description I blogged about a year ago by another young soldier who journaled his observations on line for about thirteen months ending in October last year. The similarity of these two accoounts is striking.
But then the Final Roll Call came. I've never been to a memorial service before, so I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't really think much of what the Final Roll Call would be like.

The 1SG of our unit came up to the front; we were all called to the position of attention, and he shouted out the names:

"SGT. Allman! HERE, First Sgt"

"SPC. Collins! HERE, First Sgt"

"SPC. Cometa......"at that point, for some reason, I broke.


tears starting welling up....

"SPC. ANTHONY S. COMETA...Final Call...Dropped from Roll Call"

In my head, my mind was yelling out, Answer up Tony...but I knew why there was no answer....

They then proceeded to play "Taps" while the 21 Gun Salute was performed.

I haven't cried like this for as long as I can remember.

Again you'll want to read the whole thing.

I don't know what the hell you can do except read them. There is a very big disconnect for me between these very tragic pictures of young men's lives coming to an end -- their comrades grieving, their families left with an eternal emptiness where their child, their husband their friend or cousin once was -- and the message by which this war is being advertised. Face-saving and politics be damned. I cannot see how anyone can argue that this war does not need to come to an end as soon as possible.

This morning's spam from Huffington featured a piece by Arianna herself blasting Barbara Boxer because she is supporting Joe Lieberman (who is apparently "pro-war" whatever that means) instead of his "anti-war" opponent. The manner in which politicians try to manipulate public opinion for various political agendas does nothing to help my cynicism about politics.

As far as I can tell nobody wants to be at war and a decision was made last year to extricate the US from that quagmire ASAP. There can be discussions about how soon ASAP might be, but discussions about the US getting out of the war are moot. To use the war as a domestic political tool is a sorry, dispicable, nakedly manipulative tactic no matter who does it. Nobody wants our children to die, and anyone who suggests otherwise, especially for political advantage, is not worthy of anyone's vote.


Cass said...

Well said,Hoots!I am thinking we probably don't much agree on politics, but I want to pat you on the back for this observation.Those of us who support the war are NOT pro-war. But we recognize it as a necessary evil. And yes, we want it over. We don't want any more folks to die. But we weigh the effect of an immediate pull out and find it unacceptable. OY! I'm blathering. Great post, and I'll be linking to it.

midnitebulletdodger said...

ya, i wrote the entry about my boy tony cometa. It was unfortunate accident. He died the day after his 21st birthday. It was just so frustrating. Everyone was still in shock. We heard the news, but we'd still go on mission and kinda hafta tuck away the thoughts of him and worry about the mission. Then when they had the memorial. you couldnt do anything except face the reality. you couldnt find a way to ignore the reality that one of your good friends is gone