the human toll
The Forgotten Wounded of Iraq
by Ron Kovic
It is so difficult at first. You return home and both physically and emotionally don't know how you are going to live with this wound, but you just keep trying, just keep waking up to this frightening reality every morning. "My God, what has happened to me?" But you somehow get up, you somehow go on and find a way to move through each day. Even though it is impossible, you go on. Maybe there will be a day years from now, if you are lucky to live that long, when it will get better and you will not feel so overwhelmed. You must have something to hope for, some way to believe it will not always be this way. This is exactly what many of them are going through right now.
They are alone in their rooms all over this country, right now. Just as I was alone in my room in Massapequa. I know they're there--just as I was. This is the part you never see. The part that is never reported in the news. The part that the president and vice president never mention. This is the agonizing part, the lonely part, when you have to awake to the wound each morning and suddenly realize what you've lost, what is gone forever. They're out there and they have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives and children. And they're not saying much right now. Just like me they're just trying to get through each day. Trying to be brave and not cry. They still are extremely grateful to be alive, but slowly, agonizingly they are beginning to think about what has really happened to them.
Not much fun for victims who live in Iraq, Afghanistan and the like, either.
Yet Bush's cheerleaders have the audacity to bleat on about the dearth of good news from Iraq. The only good news for them - besides the billions of dollars being looted from the public coffers in the grossly fraudulent name of "fighting terrorism" - is that the most immediate victims of American policy are largely silenced and forgotten. Their suffering, particularly when marked by criticism of American policy, threatens the moo cow complacency demanded by consumer culture.
Our collective insistence on ignoring the consequences of our aggression will haunt the American public for many years to come. We are in for a world o'hurt.