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By Remy Benoit

We wake up this morning to find that the U.S. KIA in Iraq has reached 1,500. From CNN U.S. death toll in Iraq hits 1,500. More than 1300 of those deaths were incurred after the end of major combat was declared on May 1, 2003.

U.S. KIA...letters, we reduce these lives to letters. These are their faces, theirs and those of the other Coalition KIA's. Forces: U.S. and Coaltion Casualties.

You will see there that the WIA's of the U.S. have reached almost 12,000, many, many of them life altering wounds, wheel chair bound wounds.

We do not see them come home; thus, they become "unreal" on the large scene.

Do them the courtesy of looking into their faces; imagine their dreams, imagine the grief of their families, even though many of them were committed to the idea that they were doing the right thing.

The numbers of Iraqi casualties, dead and wounded, are not really known, or shown, to us, unless we start digging for the estimates as provided by various websites.

The cost of this is in the billions, and will continue to be.

The wounds of war continue also
Vietnam War's Legacy Still Felt.
as Dan Rather moves toward retirement he remembers and shares. Many of you are still waiting to share, still waiting for the Welcome Home, still waiting to know the underlying causes of why the engagement, and why so many restrictions of its carrying out.

Some of you who knew Korea snow watch the argument still continuing, this time over nukes. The Korean Nuclear Crisis: Finding a Solution.

The areas of disagreement now spread to Lebanon, to Syria, to Iran. AP, ABC, Barry Schweid Bush Demands Syria Withdraw from Lebanon.

There are frayed relations between the United States and the Europeans; now between the United States and Russia.

The question came to me again last night, as it has come so many times, we do we feel it easier to wage war than to seek peace?

When I was teaching history and the young people came to a time in the year's work to begin learning to research and produce papers, I would communicate to them that they should not try to research too large an area. To say, " I am going to do my research project on World War II, I told them, was simply too vast a subject, too unmanageable for the time, resources, and facilities available to them. I then went on to explain that they must take one particular event in this world wide crisis, read an overview of that, and then choose one aspect of that particular event to try to make some sense of and analyze.

Into each analysis must go the "truths" of each time, each place, each people. It is a truly formidable thing to try to do, to try to "explain" history and current events. Yet it is possible to communicate if we take to the communication knowledge of history, pride of place, devotion to spiritual beliefs. They must be on the negotiating tables too. Negotiators must know what is a compliment, and what is an insult to their counterparts.

They may 'walk softly and carry a big stick', but they must also carry soul force, integrity, if they are to be believed. With those we could move forward. With anger, with knee jerk reactions based on past practices, we can only quagmire.

To wage war, we act collectively. To move toward peace, we must engage ourselves individually. As e.e. cummings once said 'the hardest thing to be is yourself.' That takes real soul excavation. History happens on a grand scale, but it is determined also at the individual level where if you are blessed with the franchise it can, and should be exercised, with information from a wide variety of sources, so you can "research" and find the "truths" of the moment. We are an interesting species. We react with horror at old Aztec blood sacrifices, at temples dripping with blood, while we accepted Mutually Assured Destruction as a deterrent to annihilation. We raise questions about morals and watch degrading “reality shows” on a vast scale. We need to start the work of peace at home, in our own hearts, in questioning our own values.

We also have to ask ourselves this question - are we so sure that the cause is right that we personally are willing to serve it, or only so sure that we are willing to send others to serve it?

Are we willing to stand by them when they come home and need us? Are we willing to stand by them when they are away and their families need us? U.S. Soldier Fights To Keep Home While In Iraq.

The books I listed last night will open questions for you. This one will also make it up close and personal. Caroline Myss, Invisible Acts of Power: Personal Choices That Create Miracles.

Does it seem threatening to take a long internal look; to ask the best of yourself; to be willing to take the path to find out what that is for you, for your family, for your country, for the world?

Perhaps it is, but it is also something that will bring you peace.

I leave you with this morning with these words from Eleanor Roosevelt and Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ”I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Does it Matter? (1918)

For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind.
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.

Does it matter?- losing your sight?
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.

Do they matter? -- those dreams from the pit?
You can drink and forget and be glad
And people won’t say that you’re mad:
For they’ll know that you’ve fought for your country
And no one will worry a bit.

If you want to start historical “research” into the whys and hows of today’s problems, this is a good place to go Versailles Treaty, June 28, 1919.

If you are an "advanced history student" try Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival.

Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam Fredrik Logevall.

The Guns of August Barbara Tuchman.

The First World War John Keegan.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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