"The very word 'war', therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. ... War is Peace."
George Orwell, 1984
If I forget everything else in my life, I will never forget the night I walked in my front door with my dogs, Buster and Chewy, and saw the three military officers standing in my living room.
I knew the moment I saw them that Casey was dead. It doesn’t take a genius to put that equation together. On one side of the equal sign is your recently deployed soldier-son, and on the other side are three Army officers standing in your house looking like they would rather be just about anywhere else.
I didn’t go to sleep that night, or indeed for a few nights. I didn’t want to go to sleep and have to wake up after brief oblivion to the realization that my oldest son was dead: Killed in a war that, like most wars, never should have been fought in the first place. Casey’s number came up and he became just one more in a long-line of humans killed for profit. Casey certainly wasn't the first, and he certainly won't be the last, but my first-born preceded his parents and three of his grandparents in death.
It seemed like within minutes of the notification at 9pm on 04 April, 2004, our house was filled with friends and the tears, screams, questions and memories flowed freely. Around 6am, I went outside to sit on the porch on my porch swing. Through my tears, shock and grief, I could see my neighborhood begin to awaken. People coming outside to pick up their papers, or head for work. I wanted to scream at them: “Don’t you know my son is dead? How can you pretend like the world is normal?” The world has never been “normal,” but I have lived in an even more surreal version since Casey was killed.
Today, I found out that the “operation” that killed my son is over. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” got its name after the “great” Powers That Be figured out that “Operation Iraqi Liberation” stood for “OIL.” Now, Obama’s SecDef, Robert Gates, has changed that benign name to an even more New-Agey, Sweeter-than-Honey name: “Operation New Dawn.” Doesn’t that sound nice? Who doesn’t like New Dawns? Except perhaps the people of Falluja who were brutalized in a Marine siege back in 2004 that was inappropriately entitled, Operation New Dawn.
When Obama first took over the trappings of Empire, he changed the name of the “Global War on Terror” the GWOT to: OCO, or Overseas Contingency Operation—doesn’t that sound benevolent, too? Like the U.S. Empire is involved in Overseas Aid. You have a need for “Aid?” We have a “contingency” for you!
Illegal invasions and occupations are now called: “Interventions” as if the U.S. and its allies, are sweeping in and saving a country or society from a drug or alcohol problem, when clearly it is The Empire that is suffering from an addiction to mass murder and pillage.
It doesn’t matter what the U.S. decides to call its “Operations:” part of us will reject the propaganda, and part of us will embrace it wanting very desperately to believe that our country is not a rogue state and/or that Obama is not as bad, or worse, than Bush.
Innocent people still die and our soldiers are still victims, whether they come home dead or alive, whatever the war criminals in DC decide to label their crimes as.
It doesn’t matter for me either. One day, whether voluntarily, or by force, these “Operations,” “Contingencies,” “Interventions,” or “Crimes against humanity” will eventually end, but my oldest son will be always be dead. There’s absolutely no way in hell for The Empire to euphemize that reality to make it any less painful or easier for me to bear.
Accountability for Casey's death won't make the pain go away, either, but it may prevent other mothers and families from having to suffer from our nation's continuous wars.