As I drive home each day from work, I like to tune into NPR. I can almost always predict the story. An update on the conflict in Syria. A report from the latest political rally. A quote from the newest athlete to fall from grace. An anecdote on gay marriage. An update on unemployment numbers.
But there’s something important that they’re markedly not discussing.
NPR is just one news agency among many that are allowing U.S. citizens to forget, tune out, and ignore the truth — America is at war, and has been for eleven years.
Two years ago, the conflict in Afghanistan surpassed the Vietnam War as the longest war in U.S. history. As of today, 2,110 U.S. soldiers and officers have been killed in “Operation Enduring Freedom,” and another 1,060 soldiers from our NATO allies have been killed as well. On August 14, 2012, seven Americans died in a a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. August 9th, Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, an instructor at West Point and father of twins, died just a few weeks after arriving in Afghanistan. Why aren’t we hearing anything about these stories?
|Major Thomas E. Kennedy|
Why are we forgetting?
The answers are as varied as they are predictable. An all-volunteer Army allows for a free, carefree, and careless population. But our want-to-be-presidents Obama and Romney are being allowed to ignore the war, too. The economy, healthcare, abortion, gay marriage, the “middle class” — these are the issues at the forefront in Tampa and Charlotte. Am I the only one who didn’t even hear the words foreign policy, or the mention of gasp — war?
80,000 soldiers are still fighting in Afghanistan. And when I get home safely from work every day, after a car ride free of road-side bombs, I often spend a few minutes zoning out on Facebook, checking out pictures of my nieces and nephews, posting links to stuff I’ve written, reading status updates from friends about how many miles they ran today or what they’re having for dinner.
Every now and then, I see a post from my brother-in-law, Eric. A picture of a wounded soldier. The moving last words of a Navy Seal killed in combat. A link to the harshly-named website www.icasualties.org. And a blog post here and there about how little attention we’re paying. He’s not letting me forget. And I thank him for it.
We need people like Eric to wake us up to what we’ve forgotten. We need the media to step up and do their job. So NPR, CNN, ABC, The Tennessean, all of you – listen up. Stop feeding us more of the same stories we’ve already heard. Start challenging a lazy people out of a comfortable existence and into the political arena over an issue that matters much more than any of us would like to think. And much more than anyone is saying.
As a recent addition to the media, I’m thankful to say that literally as I was writing this post, I was sent an assignment about an Air Force officer who was awarded a Silver Star Medal for courage in battle. Perhaps there is hope for media speaking truth.