by Brian Keaney
St. Patrick’s Day my senior year of college was probably the worst of my life. I wasn’t one to normally attend Eucharistic adoration, but we all knew that war in Iraq was imminent and so I went to offer up a couple prayers, for whatever they were worth, for peace. At the end Fr. Bob stood on the altar and told us that the president would be addressing the nation shortly to announce that we were going to war for the second time in my college career.
I watched, with hundreds of my classmates and the rest of the world, as President Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face the full fury of the American military. I was with a number of my Irish-Catholic friends that night, but we did not celebrate our patron’s feast day. No, instead we dreaded a war that I believed then to be unjust and one that would drag in more than one of our classmates before it was over.
For the next several months my AIM away message gave the number of Americans and Iraqis who had died, gone missing, or were captured. I stopped only when President Bush declared mission accomplished on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, but little did I know how wrong either of us was to believe that.
Had I continued, today it would reflect that the body count has risen to over 100,000 people. That’s 100,000 dead mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children, the vast majority of whom did absolutely nothing wrong but had the extreme misfortune to be born in what was once the cradle of civilization.
Tonight I watched a very different president give a very different speech. I could go on and on about how extremely generous he was to the administration who created the mess he inherited, but I won’t. Instead, I want to give another number. This number represents the number of Americans who lost their lives in Iraq since that Monday night in March. That number is 4,417.
Many good things have happened in Iraq since then, and for that we should be glad. However, I am sure that comes as little comfort to the families, to the mothers, to the fathers, to the husbands, wives, and children, of those 4,417 American men and women.
I still don’t know much my prayers are worth, but tonight I’ll be once again offering them up for peace in our world, for peace in Iraq, and that those 4,417 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis may rest in eternal peace.