No, this is not a political analysis; I am hardly qualified to discuss such lofty and intellectual matters. The title of this piece, “Inside the Numbers” refers to the 49 American servicemen that were killed in April — the highest number of Americans killed in Iraq in the last eight months.
For the first time since I have been doing TV or radio or write for this organization, I am going to tell you why I can write about this subject. I have been the soldier to knock on a door and utter the devastating words, “I am sorry to inform you that you son has been killed in the line of duty.” I have gotten the phone call from my father, “Your brother was killed in the line of duty.” I have written the letters saying “Your husband was killed in the line of duty.” I have held the hand of a dying soldier whose face I did not recognize except for his eyes, because the lower half of his face was blown of. So this is a subject of which I know.
American servicemen being killed in Iraq is not just a number; 49 is the number of hearts no longer beating. It’s the number of families that will remember with staggering sadness and some with pride what the time it was, the weather like, how they fell to their knees, how part of them died when they were told “Your son or daughter was killed in the line of duty.”
When you hear these words “killed in action” your world collapses. Speaking and writing these words takes more courage than I would have ever imagined. There is not a way to prepare yourself to speak such words and no life experience that can soften the emotions that flatten you when you hear them. There is a real physical, emotional and spiritual price that is paid when a soldier dies and we as a nation must stop looking the other way.
Soldiers are dying because we sent them to fight and die, the least we can do is PAY ATTENTION DAMN IT!
The death toll was on page nine of one national paper and used as political fodder on TV. We hear little about Iraq and less about Afghanistan, despite or maybe because of we are being bored to death by all the political bickering, polling, opinions and endless debates. Now, because we are looking away, we are allowing ourselves to be distracted. We are allowing what is being played out in Indiana or North Carolina to be more important than a soldier dying. If we stop paying attention, if we stop caring about soldiers dying we will become unworthy of their sacrifice. If we become unworthy of our soldiers sacrifice, we are truly doomed.
We are still not doing enough for the families who lose a loved one, in the service of this great country. We have far too many private organizations like TAPS and Wounded Warrior that are attempting to make up for the lack of concern and assets by our government for its soldiers. Taps and Wounded Warrior are totally private funded programs, giving the wounded service men and survivors much needed money and services, money and services that our government should be sending and spending.
So these numbers, these American lives lost in defense of an Iraqi government that cannot get out of its own way, these numbers demand that we pay attention. Say a prayer and shut the hell up long enough to hear the bugle play for these bravest of the brave, this number, and this loss.
Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.