- Special Sections
- Public Notices
5,843. I guess that would be a great number if it equaled the dollars in my pocket or the miles on my car. But what if I told you it equaled the number of military deaths the United States has experienced since the wars in the Middle East started in 2001? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it is.
As a reporter for The Spencer Magnet it’s important that I keep up on the latest news affecting Spencer County. Most days I enjoy that. The charge of the newspaper to keep local citizens abreast of important information and to serve as a watchdog for government entities is almost always exciting and rewarding.
But I cringe when I see the Department of Defense in the subject line of my latest e-mail.
I am on the DoD mailing list because there are military news events that affect Spencer County. Sometimes the DoD e-mails are positive, announcing new military strategies or progress. But seeing the DoD acronym usually means I’ve received a military death notification.
Unfortunately I have had a lot of those e-mails in my inbox lately. Just in the last several days I have opened numerous messages notifying me of Army and Marine deaths — most of them a result of the current United States military campaigns in the Middle East known as Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation New Dawn (Iraq). I will disclose that I have several family members and friends who have served or are currently serving in the military, which makes those notifications especially important to me. But I believe they should be important to all U.S. citizens.
In case you don’t keep up with the casualty numbers — and I must admit that I haven’t always — as of Dec. 13, 5,843 military members have been killed collectively between Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, according to the U.S. Government’s Statistical Information Analysis Division. In the same report, 41,771 military members were listed as wounded in those same wars.
Sometimes it almost seems normal to get those DoD death notices because they come so frequently. But it shouldn’t. It should horrify and remind me of the sacrifice that American men and women are making for my continued safety and freedom. It should stir feelings of sadness for the families and friends of those military members, who long to see their loved ones alive just one more time on U.S. soil. It should inspire me to pray for the protection of those men and women as they live their daily lives in makeshift military villages among unfamiliar terrain, where the food doesn’t quite taste like it does at home, and blowing kisses to children isn’t quite the same over a computer-generated video feed as it is in person.
I often need a reminder — as do so many others — that men and women are dying, sometimes by the dozen, in the name of the United States of America. Our opinions about the war, whether for or against, aren’t changing that.
I am aware of the argument that our country’s military members freely chose their professions and U.S. citizens didn’t force them to join. But why shouldn’t the sacrifice of these men and women be recognized and mentioned more often? We rightly recognize firefighters, doctors, nurses, pastors, police, EMS and many, many other professions that call for selfless sacrifice. Just because the work of the military isn’t always happening on U.S. soil doesn’t mean it should be forgotten when the cause is less than popular. On the contrary, we should try to remember how difficult it would be to leave a spouse, family or friends behind to fight on foreign soil in the name of the United States.
Perhaps you didn’t ask these military members to make this sacrifice, nor do you want them to, and that’s OK. They didn’t need to ask permission — they just did it anyway. I think that’s a pretty awesome thing.
This war in the Middle East may not be a new or hot headline, but to those fighting and their families, the story is new every day and the end is not quickly in sight.
To serve as a reminder to us all, here is the latest notice I received before deadline Monday evening:
DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today (Monday) the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Cpl. Eric M. Torbert Jr., 25, of Lancaster, Pa., died Dec. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
May we never, ever forget these lives.