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Make sure to honor all Vets this Memorial Day and the day after, and the day after...

By Dian Vujovich

I’m big on America. Think it’s a great country, warts and all. I’m also a big believer in giving credit where credit is due particularly when it comes to those who are currently serving our country in any branch of the U.S. military. And to those who have paid the ultimate price while doing so.

I’m also mindful of the many horrendous costs of war. In fact, if it were up to me I’d see to it that a box appeared on the front page of every newspaper in the country, hard copy or online, with the current count and amount of those injured or killed while serving in the two wars the U.S. is currently involved with —Iraq and Afghanistan—along with the amount of money spent thus far on these wars. This is front-page news that each and every one of us needs to see and be reminded of daily.

In case you’ve missed it, or simply consider Memorial Day a big shopping day where deals can be found on everything from clothing to cars to home furnishings, wake up! The costs of both of these wars has been and continues to be staggering.

Since 2001, when the war in Afghanistan first began and 2003 when the Iraq war was started, through May 1, 2010 the number of our men and women killed or wounded totals over 45,000. That figure, btw, does not include those in the military from other nations around the globe who have supported us in these wars, or, the number of innocent citizens killed as a result of them.

In the Iraq war, 4400 men and women have been killed and another 34,000 wounded. Remember it was President Bush who got us into this war, claimed it would only last a few weeks and whose administration assured us the cost of it would be paid for by oil. More on costs and oil in a moment.

To date over 1044 of our soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and 5,700-plus wounded. All figures for both wars were through May 1, 2010 and can be found at http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/oefwia.pdf .

As for dollars and cents, $1.05 trillion dollars have been allocated to both wars, according to http://costofwar.com . A recent Reuters story reported that we’ve spent over $1 trillion so far.

Regarding the oil that was supposed to pay for the war in Iraq? In 2003 when that war began the cost of a barrel of oil averaged around $30. Today it’s more than double that amount– $74. a barrel. So much for that notion.

On this Memorial Day, instead of shopping why not reflect on the realities of war and about those you know whose lives have been lost or changed because of the two wars Americans are currently fighting in or the wars preceding them. And then do as my friend Margie Scacci has done. She’s has emailed everyone she knows in the military and thanked them.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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