One Day We'll All Have Purple Hearts, Part 1:
An e-mail the Rude Pundit received from a self-proclaimed red-state American:
"As a state employee, part of my job is updating the web-page list of Iraq/Afghanistan casualties from my state. We have 53 so far - not many in the great scheme of the total, but every one more horrible for that reason. None my personal acquaintances, thank the Goddess, not even my wingnut brother-in-law, who as a National Guardsmen was in Iraq for four months 2003-2004.
"Almost all of them are young - at 19 or 20, they could be my own sons. They're so handsome in their senior pictures or military photos in uniform. They just got married, or were about to get married, or have pregnant wives. The few older Reservists of course have long marriages and several children.
"I get the emails from the DoD every day, and have to read every one to find dead soldiers/Marines/Guardsmen from my state. I add each one to the list - first rank, then name, age, and hometown. Almost all from small towns, which couldn't afford to lose them. Then place of death, date and circumstances. Last is unit and unit home.
"Then I email about 10 people in the Governor's office, who then send out a press release noting the death and ordering the lowering of flags to half-staff.
"Then I call the soldier's hometown paper and ask to be informed about funeral arrangements. It usually takes about a week. When I get the funeral information, I send that along to the Governor's office, which sends out another press release noting that flags will go back up to full staff at sundown on the day of the funeral. That doesn't last long. Then I find out who in my office is going to attend. At least two retired military officers from our office usually do.
"I've attended several services myself, and the military honors are breathtaking, not to mention heartbreaking.
"I love my job, but this is the most horrible thing I've ever had to do - and I've been a hotel maid and a fast-food counter-person.
"It drives me absolutely insane to hear and read the wingnuts rave about how liberals are rooting for our troops to die. I just want to scream at them that we're the only ones who care."
When George W. Bush told Jim Lehrer that Americans are giving up something for the war effort because they "sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night," it wasn't just demeaning to the families and friends of the soldiers. It was demeaning to the legions of people who have to confront this goddamned war every day in the most seemingly mundane ways. The bureaucracy of war is still about dealing with the dead and wounded. And it ain't about watching things go boom on TV.
So now that the floor's been opened, let's keep it that way: if you have a job that connects in some way to the incomprehensible loss of this war, tell the Rude Pundit about it. You can reach him, as ever, at rudepundit at yahoo dot com.
If any others make the Rude Pundit want to break out the morning sipping whiskey, he'll post them here.