The remains of the 30 US military personnel, who lost their lives when their helicopter was brought down by enemy fire, were returned to Dover Air force Base yesterday. The President was there to greet them.
The AP reports that the President solemnly climbed aboard the two C-17 cargo planes to pay his respects to the men whose deaths marked the single deadliest day in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. He then spent time with the family members and fellow servicemen, offering his condolences and appreciation for their sacrifice and service.
It is said that events like this give our Presidents pause. LBJ was said to have broken down and cried after visiting wounded Vietnam vets at Walter Reed. The “dignified transfer” of the dead into the arms of their loved ones brings home the true horror and reality of war and the magnitude of the decisions made by our commander-in-chief.
It is unfortunate that it takes events such as this to bring that message home to the American people.
We are at war. We are caught up in an Afghanistan conflict that has no foreseeable end. We have lost over 1,700 precious lives. 12,000 have been wounded. And we continue to spend over $2 billion dollars per week to continue the madness.
But unless you are one of the 1% of Americans that are actively serving or has a loved one serving in this conflict; this war is just another story buried in the back pages of newspapers that nobody reads. It is only when a major event such as this…or the killing of bin laden…manages to reach the front page that we sit up and take notice.
Even the President can fall into the trap. On Tuesday, in the middle of the Dow Jones decline, he added an almost “oh by the way” recognition of the fallen troops to the end of his economic message. We are certain that he takes the loss most seriously and meant no disrespect. But like everyone else he is focused on the economic war that has captured the country’s attention. The war in Afghanistan drones on with little notice.
We all know that we have to end this conflict and we have to end it now. But the voice of the American people is silent; distracted by other things. We are quite certain that the public would be more focused and the discontent more vocal if a military draft were in place.
They say that attending the dignified transfer of fallen soldiers can change a President. We can only hope.