Listen to news reports, read the paper, watch the war in Iraq and Afghanistan on TV. Learn the statistics of the war dead. Yes, we know the meaning behind the statistics – intellectually. It’s terrible. Obviously terrible. But unless somehow personally involved, numbers without names don’t really “connect.”
Thanks to the Student Veterans of the University of Alaska Anchorage on Veterans’ Day 2011, the numbers became more connected.
A National Roll Call was conducted on the UAA campus of some 6,300 (currently) America’s military warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan “killed in action” – euphemistically softened to “KIA.” Turns were taken intoning the names and ranks of our fallen warriors - page after page, after page, after page of names names names. Names read, one after the other, from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon.
I imagine few of us who read or heard the names during the Roll Call knew the human being behind the name. But after the calling the roll name-by-name, there was some connection. A connection more than before. It brought it all somewhat “home.” I read just one long page of names. It was an “experience.” An experience made more poignant by being a veteran myself.
Male, female, private, colonel, army, navy, air force, marine - names on the Roll Call. Made no difference. Only volunteer human beings dying on a battlefield on the other side of the world. God Bless you.