Sunday night when I learned of the death of Osama Bin Laden I did not feel elated, I did not hop on the #1 subway and head to ground zero, nor did I celebrate in the streets, drink champagne or chant USA, USA, USA! Honestly, I wish he'd been brought in alive and put on trial like we did at Nuremberg. I'd like to hear what he had to say and expose him for who and what he was. I prefer justice to murder or assassination. So instead of reveling in his demise I took a moment to reflect on what this has cost our country and our souls.
Since the "war on terror" began besides the trillions of dollars we have spent we have lost over 7,000 of our men and women in uniform. Thousands more have been horribly wounded, suffering lost limbs, brain damage and PTSD. Their recovery will cost our country and their families billions. Not to mention the horrific emotional and physical toll this will take on them.
Don't get me wrong, 9/11 was a horrific event. I watched with my own eyes as the second tower collapsed. The Pentagon had already been hit. And I thought this is either WWIII or the end of the world and as I walked home across the 59th Street Bridge I could see the smoke from the towers and smell the burning flesh and steel and souls and I said to myself, "If my father were alive he'd kick your ass!"
Growing up in the military I saw first hand the effect war has on families. My father was a Col. in the United States Army and fought in WWII in Patton's third Army, he also fought in Korea and was in military intelligence, Saigon. I know the effect war has on not only the soldier who serves but also the family members who are left behind to fend for themselves.
When my father went to Vietnam I was 18, a freshman in college and my mother was left to take care of 4 children. Unable to cope she began drinking heavily, had a nervous breakdown, burned her hands up making beef fondue and was hospitalized with third degree burns for six weeks. My father came home from Vietnam a changed man. He was a powder keg waiting to explode. I now realize he was suffering from PTSD but in the military you're not allowed to admit war has affected you and if you do you are ostracized or discharged in disgrace so better man up and pretend all is well. War is insanity. War destroys families. Vietnam destroyed my family.
Having grown up as an Army brat I am amazed at how caviler most Americans are about war. Every day the U.S. murders innocent women, children and men and labels them "collateral damage." Estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan range in the hundreds of thousands.
We Americans need to reflect on these wars and what they have wrought. We have violated international law, committed torture, suspended habeas corpus, and not held our leaders accountable. We have freely given up our rights with the passage of the Patriot Act. We allow wiretapping of our citizens, we are x-rayed or patted down in airports, our backpacks and bags are subject to search in the New York City subways as the disembodied voice of Big Brother booms over the loud speaker, "If you see something, say something." If bin Laden's goal was to curtail our freedoms and bankrupt our country then he has succeeded.
Our president and the majority of our congressmen and women have never served in the military and neither have any members of their families. This is why it's so easy for them to glorify and start wars--so easy for them to send other people's children into harms way. They too are cavalier about this. I know those who glorify war have never had any experience with it.