War memorialized

Fiction 59
The issue spotlighting winners of CN&R’s short-fiction contest will come out March 22.

There is no Iraq war memorial yet. Undoubtedly there will be, once the conflict becomes part of history. But for now, fallen soldiers have no tribute etched in marble.

Just newsprint, reproduced in cyberspace.

The three News & Review papers worked together to show the biggest cost Americans have paid in the four years since the United States invaded Iraq. The monetary expense is considerable, of course—$407.6 billion for combat operations alone—but the human loss goes beyond dollar amounts. If every life is priceless, what does that make the value of 3,200 lives? Or 650,000 (including Iraqi casualties that have been attributed to the war)?

The N&R editors are making a statement—but it’s less political than humanistic.

Yes, we oppose the war. We want the troops sent home in an expeditious manner. Seeing all the names of men and women killed in action, personalized with their home states and ages, may well convince some war supporters that we’ve sent enough people to die (and kill) in Iraq.

Others, while sticking with their convictions, may appreciate how these soldiers’ sacrifices have been remembered—how they’re worth commemorating. Either way, the human cost gets acknowledged.

Neither hawks nor doves have a monopoly on caring. During the war anniversary, on March 19, let’s resolve to wish for the best (or pray) for everyone in harm’s way. I think that’s a statement we all can agree on.

Facts over fiction: If you are one of the writers/readers who expected to see Fiction 59 stories this week, please allow me to explain …

The contest-results issue originally was scheduled for March 15. We decided to push it back a week for the Iraq war package, in order to present a unified front with our sister papers.

I hope the tribute moves you enough to forgive us for the change.

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