Friday, March 14, 2008

Buttoned Up

Another American soldier died yesterday. Three died the day before and another the day before and eight more the day before that.

No one seems to notice dead soldiers anymore. Everyone is too busy driving their cars and honking their horns and getting worked up over the price of gasoline and the stock market and whether or not Billy Crystal should play in a Spring Training game.

Marcus from Gerard Avenue in the Bronx only gets worked up about what’s pinned to his Yankee jacket. It’s a homemade button that has to be updated all the time.

Today it says:
3,987 dead Americans in Iraq.
How many did you know?

Marcus knew two.

“They were both neighborhood guys,” he says. “They joined the Army because they didn’t have a choice. They say there’s no draft in this country, but I guess that depends on where you’re from and how rich your family is.

“Guys around here get ‘drafted’ all the time,” Marcus explains. “You get out of high school and you can either join the military or deliver pizzas and live under a bridge in a cardboard box.”

Too many kids are coming home in wooden boxes these days.

“I made this button when my friends were killed,” Marcus says. “We had just passed 1,000 dead. I didn’t think it would last much longer, but now it looks like it might go on forever.

“They’re never going to run out of kids to send over there,” he continues. “People in places like the South Bronx are getting poorer and more desperate so they will keep ‘drafting’ themselves. And the people running this country will keep getting rich off it.”

And Marcus will keep adding up the cost.

“I’m sick of changing the number on this damn button,” he says. “I hoped it might make a difference, but it hasn’t so far. People in my neighborhood are too poor to do anything about it and no one else even seems to care.”


Henry said...

Everything this guy says is right. People don’t seem to care that American kids are dying in a war. I don’t think people are mean or heartless or anything like that. I think most people just don’t think about.

JoeyBoy said...

It is easy to live in this country and not even know there is a war going on. Since only poor people die why would “Jesus of Suburbia” care? We are a sad-ass society sometimes.

Pete said...

The points are valid about the "draft" in poor neighborhoods. I think there should be a draft and then everyone could fight instead of just the poor kids. Also, if there was a draft this war would be wrapped up in short order because it would all of a sudden become real to all the people that ignore it now.

Olivia said...

I agree with everything you have all said. I wish more people saw the war like this because I think it would end sooner. I think people are too busy to look or maybe they are too guilty and just want to bury their heads in the sand.

Olivia said...

…and I think it was fine for Billy Crystal to take that at bat. It’s spring camp and it’s baseball. This is supposed to be fun.

War is NOT fun.

Baseball is fun.

Does everyone have that?

Henry said...

Got it, Olivia. You are 100% right.

Larry Jaffe said...

Todd-- Man you really know how to put things in perspective. You are truly one of the best bloggers around if not the best. My respect for you has no limits. I have always thought that if politicians want wars they should send their own children to battle and put themselves on the front line. That would handle things fast.

michael o. allen said...

Marcus speaks a heartbreaking truth. But no one hears him. The policians no longer talk about Iraq (or Afghanistan). Come November, we will elect the most insane, the most power-hungry, the most war-loving among them as leaders.

Some other persons' sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sister, uncles, aunts will keep dying in these wars.


Jason said...

I agree with you all. This war has been costly in Iraqi and American lives, grotesquely expensive and destructive, and a foreign policy nightmare for the US--a thoroughgoing disgrace. It's also conducted as such by design--outside the purview of most of the country--volunteer army, embedded journalists, poorly analyzed by corporate media, framed by administration lies and deceit.

As long as many people get their bread and circuses, they don't care about the human costs of things, including this war. Disgraceful.

There is lots of good information and journalism being done about these wars, but they're too often ignored. Thanks for keeping the impact of the war on the soldiers and everyday people back home in our sights.