Thursday, August 19, 2004

When You Hear "Injured", Think "Maimed"

I don't know about you, but when I hear reports of injuries coming out of Iraq, I think "bullet wound in the shoulder, like in the movies." I think "broken glass skimming across the forehead, giving the opportunity to wear a tough-looking bandage." I think "piece of shrapnel in the leg, carefully and completely removed by a competent doctor and treated with antibiotics, the result being a limp when it rains."

Yep, I'm ignorant. Fortunately, I got a little education yesterday.

This is third-hand information, so take it as you will. The woman I work with has a close friend whose son is a colonel in Iraq. He e-mails his folks every day, and he's gotten so frustrated with what's going on there she's worried he might do something stupid. The other day he wrote to her about casualties -- a casualty report unlike the ones in the newspaper.

(And incidentally, have you noticed how reporting on the casualties has changed? No longer front-page, no longer leading the evening news. They've dropped, graf by graf, in the newspaper stories, and sometimes you have to look after the jump, inside the paper. Slowly. But it's happening.)

The colonel said he is in despair because of what he's seen. In the area he oversees, there have been 952 limb amputations.

Nine hundred and fifty-two.

It's a blast war. Not a bullet war. Now I know that, and now I know the difference.

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