15 July 2009

David Axe says it best

I really can't expand much upon the excellent article David Axe and Kevin Knodell posted this morning on War is Boring, so I'll quote it in full. It came complete with video from CBS:

Watch CBS Videos Online

First Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw was killed in Afghanistan on June 25, the same day Michael Jackson died. With the King of Pop’s passing dominating the headlines, no one much noticed Bradshaw’s death, at first. Then Bradshaw’s family began extolling their soldier’s sacrifice, and Fox News and CBS News (posted above) eventually ran with it.

Bradshaw attended Pacific Lutheran University, where I am a student with strong connections to the Army ROTC program. I didn’t know him — he commissioned the year before I enrolled — but I knew of him, and even met him once. His death has strongly affected the cadets, as well as the training cadre and graduates. I see the faces of friends and mentors when I watch the CBS spot.

Michael Jackson’s death was newsworthy, but it overshadowed the recent deaths of more than a dozen American and British soldiers in Afghanistan. The dead soldiers’ families got to hear every day about their countrymen’s “despair” over the “Jackson tragedy.” Many Brits and Americans know all the bizarre details of Jackson’s death, but words like “Helmand” and “Kandahar” don’t even register. [Ed. note--among the eight British troops killed in Helmand Province in Afghanistan this past week, are commanders at the platoon, company and battalion-level.]

More journalists should go to Afghanistan. Local T.V. stations and newspapers should request embeds with their local National Guard units. We need to hear about soldiers like Bradshaw all the time.

I’m not saying that entertainment isn’t news, or that the war always trumps the economy and other issues. But on this point I’m firm: Americans, and the people of every nation fighting abroad, need to pay closer attention. Soldiers can’t simply change the channel to something more pleasant, and less dangerous, than war. The public shouldn’t change the channel, either. [from Kevin Knodell, War is Boring]

If you looked closely at the video, you might have seen a number of motorcycle riders carrying American flags. These are members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a non-profit non-partisan organization of motorcylce riders who escort the funeral procession (only at the invitation of the family). The Patriot Guard Riders also shield the funeral from appearances by members of the Westboro Baptist "Church"--an organization which celebrates the death of military service members, as they view each service member's death as God's retribution for the military's passive acceptance of gays and lesbians.

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