A soldier died in battle today.
His mutilated body was assembled into a pile of human offal and placed in a body bag, mourned only by his brothers in arms. Not even his family is thus far aware of his demise, his ultimate sacrifice.
But the lead story on the national nightly news was about an adulterous overpaid golfer—as it has been for months, and will continue to be for months. And the second lead concerned yet one more rotten politician committing misprision by surreptitiously passing yet one more pork barrel spending bill, throwing money around like a drunken sailor on a bankrupt, sinking Titanic.
And nobody seemed to care that a 20-year-old soldier died today.
From the day he witnessed the televised destruction of the World Trade Center towers as a ten-year-old, he had determined to do something for his country, to physically fight his country’s enemies, as had his father and grandfather before him. As a child he had paid attention to his teachers at school, because that’s the way it is in a small rural community.
And once he’d read JFK’s words “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” he was “sold” for the second half of his short life. He was determined to do his duty as a patriot, as his father had done in Korea and Vietnam, and his grandfather in two World Wars before him.
And now he’s dead, blown apart by an Improvised Explosive Device—and nobody cares.
No pampered childhood for him, no petulant outbursts when his little white ball didn’t fall into a hole in the ground, no multi-million dollar sponsorship contracts, and no million-dollar yachts—just a cheap zippered body bag.
And the only recognition he’ll ever get is a posthumously awarded medal and a small tombstone in the family farm burial plot, soon to be faded by weather and the ravages of time.
How sad and disgusting it is that we place the Tiger Woods of the world on an iconic pedestal, while the Pat Tillmans lie in their graves forgotten by all but a few.
They are both born with a certain amount of God-given talent, and both put in a tremendous amount of effort to reach the zenith of their respective sports, but that’s where they come to the fork in the road of life. One stays on the comfortable main road, garnering fame, riches, and public adulation—and why wouldn’t he? But the other gives up fame and riches, and follows the JFK trail.
An M4 carbine instead of a golf club, heavy uncomfortable body armor instead of corporate-sponsored polo shirts, no time out for bad weather, and an increasingly difficult training regimen—because now there is no payout for second place. And the country club is replaced by a mess hall—if you make it back from a “tournament.”
And it’s as well to remember that the unrecognized, and for the most part anonymous, Dogs of War are the members of society who sacrifice their bodies and lives so the rest of us can play golf.
A 20-year-old soldier died in battle today.
And damn you for not even acknowledging this on a 30-minute news broadcast, wherein you spent eight minutes on excuses for a sorry human being who has no excuse for his despicable behavior. Damn you for sanctimoniously saying that many people sign on for military service because they don’t have the acumen to get employment in another field. And damn you for allowing the dregs of society to wave their anti-war banners in a cemetery while a bereaved family lays their 20-year-old warrior son to rest.
A 20-year-old soldier died today—and nobody cares.
Have we no shame?