Preparing my last blog, I discovered the Washington Post’s page called “Faces of the Fallen.”
There you will see the tragic chronicle of the young Americans who have, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, given “the last full measure of devotion” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was surprised to discover that 103 service men and women had been killed during the 69 days that the Chilean miners were underground.
But the list revealed more than surprising numbers.
As I typed the names of their hometowns, I was struck by how curious and unfamiliar they were. Tunica, Mississippi. Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Holly Hill, Florida. Nassau, New York. Morehead and Tollesboro Kentucky. Moreland, Georgia and Pine City, Minnesota.
So I did the math.
Seventy-two percent of them hailed from cities and towns of less than 100,000. In fact, the average population was 21, 631.
Interestingly, the hometowns of the other 28 percent averaged only 461,044. The largest city represented in the group was San Antonio, Texas, population 1,373,668.
One hundred young Americans who died for their country in the last sixty days.
Not a single one from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Nashville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Saint Louis, Boston, or San Diego.
The few that hailed from Blue States were not from the major population centers. Nassau, and Randolph, New York, population 549 and 1,208 respectively. Athens, Michigan, population 1,111. Pleasant Plains, Illinois, population 777. Westlake Village, California, population 8,459. Palmyra, New Jersey, population 7,091.
Lots of Christian names like Matthew, Mark and John. Christopher, Daniel and Joshua, Adam and Kevin and Michael and Patrick. And Faith and Barbara.
In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on the fact that he had opposed the war in Iraq. He insisted that we should be in a smarter war, one more targeted toward Osama Bin Laden. His strategy has been to expand the war in Afghanistan.
But not too much. Not too vigorously. Not with all of our might. Just enough boots on the ground to keep the up the killing and the dying.
Afghanistan is not so much a nation as it is a vast uncivilized territory in which tribal nomads kill each other and anyone else who shows up. The Russians were there for ten years and finally gave up. Not defeated, just not victorious. They pulled out in 1989.
Less than a year later the Soviet Union collapsed. The fifteen separate republics which had been governed by the Moscow overlords declared their independence.
The Soviet army was exhausted and fragmented. Despite sporadic attempts to prevent sesession, by 1991 the USSR was declared dissolved and the former soviet republics became separate sovereign countries.
The United States military has been in Afghanistan for ten years.
If our purpose was to create a modern democracy in that Godforsaken place, we have totally failed. If our goal was to kill Osama Ben Laden, we have failed. If our goal was to eliminate the danger of terrorist activity in the United States, we can hardly claim to have succeeded.
So why are we there?
Why are the flower of American youth being sacrificed every day thousands of miles from home?
Why is our blue state president sending red state kids out to die in the desert?
Isn’t it time we brought them home?
Isn’t it time we established a mile wide border control zone from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California and put General Petreous and his troops in charge of repelling the invasion of criminals from Mexico?
If our boys and girls are going to die for their country, at least they should be given the chance to die on American soil.