Last week I attended a lecture at UMass Lowell by BU Professor Andrew Bacevich who discussed his views of Washington and the US military. Bacevich’s harshest criticism was directed at how our country and its leadership handled the Iraq War. He said that unless someone knows someone in the military, most Americans are oblivious to the fact that we are at war. Never in the history of our country has our leadership simultaneously cut taxes and took the country into war as the Bush administration did. Not only were the vast majority of Americans not called on to personally sacrifice, we didn’t even have to pay for the war – the bill has been kicked down the road for future generations.
Before joining academia, Bacevich was a career Army officer who began his service in Vietnam. Tragically, his Army officer-son was killed in action in Iraq on May 13, 2007. Two weeks later, Bacevich published an Op-Ed in the Washington Post in which he outlined his reasons for opposing the Iraq War and concluded that he had not spoken out strongly enough:
In joining the Army, my son was following in his father’s footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time. Yet he was the better soldier — brave and steadfast and irrepressible. I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought I was doing the same. In fact, while he was giving his all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him.
At UMass Lowell, Bacevich did compliment one institution for not ignoring the wars cost. Each day, the New York Times publishes a small box called “Names of the Dead” in which is listed the name, rank, age, unit and home town of service members who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a small thing, but given our societal amnesia about our ongoing wars, it’s an important thing.
Here are the US service members who were killed in action during this past week:
* BALDWIN, Robert F., 39, Maj., Army; Muscatine, Iowa; 101st Airborne Division.
* CALHOUN, Marvin R. Jr., 23, Sgt., Army; Elkhart, Ind.; 101st Airborne Division.
* LOONEY, Brendan J., 29, Lt., Navy; Owings, Md., SEAL team.
* McCLELLAN, Jonah D., 26, Chief Warrant Officer, Army; St. Louis Park, Minn.; 101st Airborne Division.
* McLENDON, David B., 30, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Navy; Thomasville, Ga.; Naval Special Warfare unit.
* MIRANDA, Denis C., 24, Petty Officer Third Class, Navy; Toms River, N.J.; SEAL team.
* POWELL, Joshua D., 25, Staff Sgt., Army; Pleasant Plains, Ill.; 101st Airborne Division.
* SMITH, Adam O., 26, Petty Officer Second Class, Navy; Hurland, Mo.; SEAL team.
* WAGSTAFF, Matthew G., 34, Chief Warrant Officer, Army; Orem, Utah; 101st Airborne Division.
* FLEMING, Scott J., 24, First Lt.; Marines; Marietta, GA; Third Marine Division
* GRIDER, Ronald A., 30, SFC, Army, Brighton, Ill.; Special Operations Command
* JOHNSON, Timothy L., 24, Specialist, Army, Randolph, NY; Fourth Infantry Division
* KRAMER, Aaron K., 22, Sgt, Army; Salt Lake City; 101st Airborne Division
* NEWMAN, Jaime C., 27, Staff Sgt., Army, Richmond, Va; 101st Airborne Division
* SANCHEZ, Daniel R., 23, Senior Airman, Air Force; El Paso; 23rd Special Tactics Squadron
* SNOW, Deangelo B., 22, Specialist, Army; Saginaw, Mich., 101st Airborne Division
* VIEYRA, Barbara, 22, Pfc. Army, Mesa, Ariz; 720th Military Police Battalion
* YATES, Eric, 26, First Lt., Army, Rineyville, Ky; 101st Airborne Division
* CARRON, Paul D., 33, Maj., Army; Second Stryker Cavalry
* HARTON, Joshua A., 23, Specialist, Army; Bethlehem, Pa.; 10th Mountain Division