Fifty-thousand plus and I cannot find them as I did then: those humans who died in Vietnam.
The on-line lists of Vietnam’s dead are smart, logical, and organized. They are listed in any way you want them: Date of birth, place of birth, service dates, place of death, date of death, etc. Even on the Memorial Wall are the dead divided by years. I cannot find random names, hundreds to a page, just the names, not alphabetized, not manipulated, not manicured, not searchable...just names. Where are the thousands listed in reckless, random, chaotic, non-order falling on paper as they did in those nameless places far away?
Hundreds ... thousands ... tens of thousands ... it doesn’t matter where they were born, or what school they graduated from, or when they joined or when they died. They were men and women who died in our war, as randomly as the roll of dice. Why must American dead become manipulated statistics? Does it matter what year our sons and daughters died when time fails to take the pain away?
While driving through the Dakotas, I saw places where several prairie dogs had died in the same place on the highway. An old-timer told me that the death of one would spur the curiosity of others who were likewise killed. Their death brought still others, only to die.
Nixon’s war? Bush’s War? Obama’s War? The humans who die in America’s wars are dying to avenge those who have died. They tell us that we must escalate war to end it. But how can that be when it is war itself that becomes the reason for more war. It’s not about democracy or nation building or even patriotism. It is vengeance and anger that brings others to die in order to balance the faulty scale of justice that has become nothing more than a cloak of hatred.
The list will not end. The prairie dogs return in flag-draped coffins while others leave to make someone pay and only the soldier who tastes war knows why.