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By Remy Benoit

War is ugly.

It is not the farewell parades, nor the dress uniforms.

It is death and destruction. It is a destroyer of lives. It levels cities, farms; takes down centuries old structures and leaves them in rubble.

It takes legs, arms, hearts, psyche, and soul into its insatiable maw.

It takes the sons and daughters of countries from their everyday lives and puts them into untenable positions that fly in the face of everything they have known before.

We send them with a particular mission, and yet once they arrive, the mission is to stay alive; to keep themselves and their buddies alive. But death comes.

We have given war rules but sometimes those rules crumble in the reality of trying to make sense of what is going on; of trying to stay alive; of seeing those we have grown close to explode around and sometimes onto us.

Yet those at home act surprised when things go wrong; when rules made in quiet, clean rooms are broken on gory gruesome battlefields.

Civilians are dying in large numbers daily in Afghanistan, in Iraq. We call them "collateral damage."

The lives of those who serve are impacted daily while the rest of the country goes about its business without rationing stamps, without Victory Gardens, without a "total war" mentality. For those who serve, for their families, it is, indeed, a 'total war' mentality.

From Paul Reickhoff of the IAVA and Remember the Cost of War.

Things go wrong. For some Marines, it seems that perhaps, something went very wrong. From CNN and Jamie McIntyre Sources: Lawmakers told to brace for Haditha fallout.

No, understanding what seems to have happened here will not 'justify it,' but perhaps make us face what we have sent them to face as we go about our business and have our Memorial Day barbecues, forgetting what Memorial Day is about. Perhaps it will make us truly search for a better way to resolve international disputes.

From MSNBC MarinesÂ’ families discuss Haditha fallout.

Perhaps we need to get our heads out of the sand and study war, really study war. Perhaps if we did that we would not accept the euphemisms for death and destruction. Perhaps if we did that, we would as a nation insist that the VA was properly funded to care for those we sacrifice. It is not properly funded, can barely cover Veterans of earlier wars let alone this one. Stand up for them, demand care. Face it, before this is over there will be a lot more dead, a lot more wounded who need help.

From The Washington Post, Ellen Knickmeyer, and MSNBC U.S. will reinforce troops in west Iraq.

From the AP and CNN Former POW gets note from Iraqi captor.

We are all capable of 'losing it' when upset, frustrated. From the AP and MSNBC As gas prices rise, so do tempers at the pump. Isn't a gas station attendant's life worth more than $52?

From CNN and Arwa Damon A reporter's shock at the Haditha allegations.

From CNN U.S. moves 1,500 troops into Iraq.


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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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