Eyes of soldiers taken before, during and after Afghanistan. Photographed by Claire Felicie (clairefelicie.com) and Joseph T. Blutarski (Blutarskireality.com)
Korengal Valley, Afghanistan 2011
Every day is Memorial Day.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a hardly comprehensible toll on the lives, and psyches of those involved. Closing in on 12 years of war, 49,897 American young men and women have been wounded in actual ground combat in these wars, with 7,024 who have made the ultimate sacrifice. (These numbers do not include the 9/11 attacks.)
56,921 total lives forever changed.
Here’s a little bit of theory on numbers-
Let’s say that every one of these lives has 2 parents, 1 sibling, 1 significant other and 2 close friends. That makes for 6 more lives which will be directly or indirectly effected from these wounded service members or fallen service members. This makes for 341,526 people whose lives have been directly effected by the over decade-long, dual-fronted war on terror.
So as a minimum total, 1.1% of Americans have been impacted directly by the result of this war.
America has had it easy. Yes, there have been rises and falls in the past 12 years. The Economy went up and down, Gas prices went up and down, news coverage of the wars went up and down, but nothing really happened here that interfered with our normal day-to-day lives.
Americans are extremely talented at ignoring the issues, and pretending that every thing is fine. How many times does it happen in a day? In passing, we ask each our fellow citizens how they are, and the only appropriate answer is “fine.” or any of it’s similes.
I’m not going to try and get the world to take action or go up in arms about how false we are with one another, but maybe every once in a while we can put some actual effort into it. Memorial Day is coming up. For many Americans, this means a day off of work, a barbecue, a six pack, and maybe a sale at Macy’s. However for at least 1.1% of Americans, I guarantee that it is a day of remembrance, reckoning, and often times mourning. For survivors of combat, every day is memorial day.
Do something. I am almost certain that every person in America knows a Veteran. Say hi. Give them a hug. Take them out to dinner. Offer to watch their kids. Anything. These people have given so much. What can you give back?
Soviet troops in combat in Gizel, Ossetia, during the Caucasus campaign.
Entrenched Soviet troops in the Caucasus.
Italians in Afghanistan
Column of German assault guns moving into the Caucasus region to join the fighting there.
German gunners in the Caucasus mountains taking a break.
USMC mortar team in Afghanistan doing mortar things.
Soviet anti-tank rifleman with a machine gun team during the Caucasus campaign.