A friend told me that she had recently struck up a casual conversation with a middle-aged woman she met at a social gathering.
During their small talk, my friend asked, "How many children do you have?"
"I had two," the woman replied. "But one was killed in Iraq."
My friend said she was speechless. "I could not think of one comforting thing to say," she told me.
Finally, she said to the grieving mother, "I am sure you are very proud of your son's service."
On Memorial Day weekend, what can I write about except George Bush's filthy and futile Iraq War?
I'm proud that I opposed the war in Iraq. President George W. Bush's disingenuous sales pitches fooled most of America….but not me.
In my March 2003 column, written just hours before the Iraq invasion, I stated, "Bush owes Americans more candor than he has given us."
More than two years later, we're still waiting for honest answers about America's future in Iraq.
Iraq is a disaster. The U.S. death total now stands at 1655. Even the most hardened Bush apologists have been silenced by the totality of the mess in Iraq.
Remember the euphoria of the Iraqi elections?
Here's the harsh post-election truth: according to the Associated Press and based on statistics from police, hospitals and military officials, more than 620 people, including 58 U.S. troops, have been killed since April 28.
Included in the slaughter were 89 car bombs that killed at least 355 people. An additional five suicide bombings by individuals wearing explosives killed 107 people.
For those who are delusional enough to hope that everything will work out in Iraq, some evaluations from high-ranking U.S. officials might jar you into reality.
A May 20th New York Times story titled "Generals Offer a Sober Outlook on Iraqi War" offered a bleak picture of the U.S. ability to quell the insurgency.
The best one general could muster up was this grim forecast: "It's going to succeed in the long run, even if it takes years, many years."
The Los Angeles Times provided another insightful news item with its May 22nd story by Mark Mazzetti, "Officers Plot Exit Strategy."
Mazzetti wrote that last year Army lieutenants and captains left the service at an annual rate of 8.7% indicating
"An undercurrent of discontent within the Army's young officer corps…Young captains in the Army are looking ahead to repeated combat tours, years away from their families and a global war that their commanders tell them could last for decades. Many officers…are deciding that it is a future they can't sign up for."
Finally, from the soldiers themselves comes a cry for help.
According to the G.I. Rights Hotline, more than 3,000 soldiers or recruits call looking for information about the consequences of going A.W.O.L.
A phone volunteer says that almost all the callers have made up their minds to get out. The latest Pentagon figures put the current A.W.O.L. total at 5, 133.
As always when I write critically about the Iraq War, I conclude with the same question: "Where is the outrage?"
One reason the American public is so uninformed about Iraq is because the media has not covered the war adequately.
If you lived though the Vietnam era and recall, as I do, the nightly images of carnage that helped awaken America, you might be wondering why we aren't getting similar photojournalism from Iraq.
The Los Angeles Times broke down the actual number of pictures of Americans killed in action during a recent six-month period in Iraq.
During the period analyzed, 559 Americans and Western allies died. Yet six prominent newspapers—among them the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post— and Time and Newsweek Magazines, published almost no pictures of dead Americans from the war zone.
Can you remember seeing any?
Newspaper editors admit that they have done a poor job. Pim Van Hemmen, assistant managing editor for photography at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. said:
"We in the news business are not doing a very good job of showing our readers what has really happened over there. Writing a headline that 1,500 Americans have died doesn't give you nearly the impact of showing one service man who is dead. It's the power of the visuals."
For the growing number of Americans who have changed their minds about the wisdom of invading Iraq, let's take comfort in the old adage about things that can't go on, don't.
Under no circumstances will the status quo in Iraq continue into 2006.
Expect to see the draft reinstated. Then we'll find out just how popular Bush's war really is.