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thedrifter
08-01-06, 07:23 AM
NOW AND THEN
Keeping score in the World Cup of War recalls numbing past losses

By Donald M. Murray, Globe Correspondent | August 1, 2006

What's the score this morning?

Who has killed the most? The Marines, Special Forces, National Guard, the Seals, the Army Reserve, the faceless Corporate Mercenaries?

Who is playing in the big game today? The ****es, the Sunis, the Israelies, the Lebanese, H ezbollah?

Are they playing in Afghanistan today? India? Is there a game in London? New York? Tyre? Bag h dad? In your neighborhood?

Whose winning the World Cup of War?

We don't know. It's all a dreadful confusion of religions and sects and geography and oil and history. One person's terrorist is another's hero.

Those of us who have had our own wars find ourselves back in the life we've locked away in an attic trunk with our uniforms.

Sudden memories: I pass a paratrooper in my outfit hanging in a tree, his intestines trailing out of him after a woman had torn him open with a pitchfork. The dead German soldier with a silly smile, his belly already bloated, holding a snapshot of a girl naked from the waist up. Does someone need a leftover hand that may be friend or enemy?

The farmer plowing our battlefield. There may be a spring. The dogs and cows and pigs and farmers killed. A horse running across a field of fire. His mane, tail, hoofs body on fire.

The refugees the movies rarely show. An old woman doubled over under the weight of the sewing machine strapped to her back. The old and the young stumbling across the battlefield, fleeing to where they do not know. They are numbed, their faces show no difference. No fear or hope. They are the walking numb.

Once, I was in Paddington Station in London during a buzz bomb attack. Sudden silence. No panic, just a terrible patience and a return to the routines of life as if buzz bombs were as normal as falling rain.

It seems we are all in that Paddington Station today. Numb. Silent. Stunned. Helpless. Reading the numbers of the dead as if they were scores on a World Death Cup.

We avoid the true score. For everyone dead, there is a killer. For everyone dead , there is a family. For everyone dead , there are many more wounded.

As we celebrate ``our" heroes, we do not know how many have committed suicide. How many have broken minds and memories that cannot be erased? How many feel the itch of the leg that is no longer there?

Ellie