A father's lament

News & Politics

Though your opposition to the war, to war in general, may never flag; though your condolences may go out 2,000+ -- or 30,000+ -- times, it's all but impossible to make your compassion available, to keep your heart open.

The numbers abstract us, repetition dulls us, anger eats empathy, a shiny new layer of cynicism forms and words replace feelings. But every once in a while a letter, a conversation, an odor or image wakes our humanity and we re-experience the original motivation. The reason we began to engage.

This is all hypothetical, mind you.

Paul E. Schroeder's son Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder II was killed in Iraq and in a Washington Post essay Schroeder confronts his complex reaction to repeated injunctions that "'he died a hero' or 'he died a patriot' or 'he died for his country...'" which, he says, "rub raw."

Schroeder writes: "'People think that if they say that, somehow it makes it okay that he died,' our daughter, Amanda, has said. 'He was a hero before he died, not just because he went to Iraq. I was proud of him before, and being a patriot doesn't make his death okay.'"

In addition to registering his outrage over the ineffectual strategy and inadequate resources that contributed to Augie's death, and the constant misinformation to cover these blunders, Schroeder has the courage to say what few have: "Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq -- was a waste."

Anticipating the administration's response to statements like this one, Schroeder writes: "President Bush says those who criticize staying the course are not honoring the dead. That is twisted logic: honor the fallen by killing another 2,000 troops in a broken policy?" Please read the whole thing. (WaPo; hat tip: FireDogLake)

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