Good Friday. Black Friday. It's where sin has been leading us. We have arrived. More on that in the next post...
I'm pretty good about anniversaries. They are important, and I continue to surprise my wife Jean with what I remember and observe.
Wednesday we had a memorial service for the "downtown fallen", as I call them. These are the people, many without homes, most with addictions and some mental illness--as well as great gifts and big hearts, who have died in our city's core during the past year. At the end of the service their names were read and candles were lighted in their memory. Then the woman who read the names added, "And for all our soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan." They lit as many of the remaining candles as they could in a brief time. Right on!
Some of these fresh-faced, clean-shaven young men (and women) will be on our streets in a few years, despite our best efforts which often fall far short of the real need. Alcohol, drugs and exposure will eventually kill the bodies where an untimely death of the soul has already occurred.
I don't see nearly as many of those yellow "Support Our Troops" magnetic ribbons on cars these days. And it's been a coon's age since I've seen one of those photocopied red-white-blue "Proud to be American" 8.5 x 11 sheets in the back window of a car.
So I've been grieving as the Iraq war enters its sixth year. And I didn't write on the anniversary, 3/19, when we started bombing. I've been waiting for someone here to say something about all this that made sense. And it hasn't happened.
So I have one simple request that will require about 39-40 minutes of your head and your heart. America, do you support the troops? Are you proud to be you? Then take a little time to listen to some voices that will never stand beside the president or one of the candidates. Take a little time to listen to people who have gone where our leaders and our news media cannot go. Hear what these voices have to say. This is what you own. This is what you have a responsibility to know, to think about, to pray about, and to act on. It's called the responsibility that comes with freedom.
1. Go to www.npr.org. On the left sidebar scroll down to the program Fresh Air. Click on it and then select "past shows" and select the date 3/18. Listen to Terry Gross' conversation with Charles Sennott of the Boston Globe upon his return from Iraq. Listen to all of it. And especially ponder what he has to say about two things near the end: Afghanistan, and the lack of news reporting from overseas in our US newspapers/TV. Iraq has been far too dangerous for most US news agencies to even keep reporters there, and few can venture outside the Green Zone. So do we really know what is happening there? We don't. We should. We must.
2. Again, go to www.npr.org. At the bottom of that sidebar, click on "more programs" and you will get the alphabetical list. Scroll down to "w". Click on The World with Lisa Mullins. When that page comes up, look on the right side for the link to Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's "Baghdad, City of Walls" narrated video. It's about 5 minutes. But I also suggest you take in his stories on "80,000 Angry Men" and the story on Iraq's orphaned children that are available at the guardian.co.uk page you will go to.
Listen. See. Think. Pray. Support our troops by informing yourself, now and when some of them are on our streets and under bridges in the future. We owe them that. We owe them better decisions than we have made in the past. We do.
See you at the foot of the cross.