Milestone of death: 1,000 GIs
And God knows how many Afghans
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow / The Rag Blog / February 20, 2010
Usually we look upon the next milestone in our lives as a great step forward. But we also need to mark and mourn milestones of death, not only the physical deaths of beloved people but explosions of moral and ethical death for those who brought about these deaths — milestones that remind us of how human beings — who bear the Image of God — are killing other human beings who bear the Image of God.
For this kind of death, God is inconsolable, and we should be as well.
We have nearly reached the tragic milestone of the death of the 1,000th U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. As of this writing, the most reliable source (icasualities.org) lists 998 U.S. soldiers as having died in Afghanistan. So it is sadly probable that the milestone will be reached in the next few days. Check the link above.
God only knows how many Afghans have now died in this war, including many civilians — just recently, an entire family, including six children, in a house bombed by “mistake,” for which the U.S. military “apologized.” But no apology can redress those deaths. We can mourn them, however, along with the American dead.
Various groups are preparing vigils throughout the USA. Some will be the day after, others are scheduled for the next working day. There seems to be no national list; if you find one near you, I urge you to join it and/or to mark this moment in prayerful communal services or private prayer and meditation this weekend.
I hope and urge that such memorial events will mourn the human and economic cost of war, call for the troops to come home, and support transferring most of the funds being spent for death to meeting the urgent public needs of our own country, with some going to fund an Afghan-led reconstruction of the war-torn country.
[Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director of The Shalom Center; co-author of The Tent of Abraham; author of Godwrestling — Round 2, Down-to-Earth Judaism — and a dozen other books on Jewish thought and practice, as well as books on U.S. public policy. The Shalom Center voices a new prophetic agenda in Jewish, multireligious, and American life.]
Editor’s note: As we publish this article, the total of GI deaths in Afghanistan stands at 999.