Sunday, December 26, 2010

[Guest essay] Christmas in Afghanistan

Republished here with permission of the author.

by Molly Conner on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 10:40pm

As you go to Christmas services this year, please take a minute and remember the servicemen and women who died in Afghanistan this year.

The United States has lost 494 servicemembers this year. The UK has lost 101. Total Coalition Forces casualties are at 702. It is the deadliest year of the war so far. Yet no one in the United States is paying attention. News coverage of the war makes up 4% of media stories, down from 5% in 2009.

Less than 1% of voters polled before the midterm elections this year considered the war in Afghanistan to even be a major issue.

So please, as you celebrate the holiday this year, take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for this country, those who were wounded, those who lost limbs, and those who lost loved ones. I honestly don't care if any of you are for or against the war. Your position doesn't matter. Just please, keep us in mind, remember us, and pay attention when the stories come on the news. Please let the war in Afghanistan take precedence in your mind over Bristol Palin in Dancing With the Stars, or Lindsay Lohan's latest drama in rehab. Please remember us. Have the debate. Ask the hard questions. Decide if it's worth it, and if it is, what more needs to be done, what you can do to help. Visit your local veteran's center, ask what you can do to help. Donate to the wounded warriors project. Or just visit the websites of the units in Afghanistan, and look at the names, pictures, and biographies of the fallen. I link to my own 101st Airborne Division, which has lost over 100 soldiers this year. But they all deserve to be remembered.

I don't believe that all soldiers are heroes. I don't believe that military personnel should be automatically labeled as role models, as too often happens. I don't pretend that hundreds of thousands don't initially enlist for reasons other than patriotism.

However, I do believe, with my whole heart, that when you allow your elected government to send soldiers to fight and die in your name, you owe them the basic human dignity of paying attention, and acknowledging that sacrifice. And yet, nine years into this war, media coverage is down, and the war is a non-issue in the election, while soldiers continue to die at their highest rates yet.

Attention should be paid.

So please, when you celebrate the holiday this year: remember us.,com_frontpage/Itemid,840/

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