By Patricia Keegan
On the PBS evening News Hour we watch them in silence, the Honor Roll of American military members killed in Iraq. Clear-eyed, eager, proud, some caught up in the family legacy of service to country, others jobless and willing. All trained, then flown to Iraq, young and believing that life is forever.
Adventurous, they leave behind small towns and cities that could not hold them. They leave behind families that cling to last words and promises, wondering if they should, or could have loved then more.
We watch them in silence on the flat screen TV. We peer into eyes -- optimistic and merry, serious and intelligent, some shadowed by their past.
Their faces slide by, army, navy, air force, marines, national guard -- we know the uniform, but we know them not. We feel the pain behind the face; we anguish in the wake of war’s unrelenting savagery. Can we hear the cry which resonates through families, as if responding to a lightening bolt that splits and shatters hearts into pieces. When will it end? How do we answer them?
Nobody knows. The reason for going to war has changed three times. Each reason morphs into the next, and we must be satisfied. To be passive is now considered patriotic. We passively accept authority. Yet there is no undoing; there is no return.
In silence we watch them
For to watch them not,
Belies their existence.
In silence, their faces,
The fleeting of souls,
All broken, Confused.
Like leaves all blown skywards,
They’ve left us behind
To carry this burden --
Even our grief