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.”