There is enough going on that we need reminding from time to time: The war in Iraq is costing the lives of men and women from the US, many more in the country whose leadership we so massively rearranged. Sometime in the past two weeks US casualties, the dead and wounded, pasts the 35,000 mark - 4,204 dead, 30,832 wounded.
That sort of number is large enough to where it is sometimes hard to get a conceptual grasp of what it is about. Here is one way to think of it: If 35,000 people were lined up one to every 18 inches, that would mean 3,493 (say 3,500) to the mile. The total casualties would make a line ten miles long.
For four and a half years here in Lewes there has been a Silent Vigil remembering the human costs of war. It started when the number of deaths reached a 1,000. It is unclear when we will stop, but we will be there until it is clear it is ending. Our little line is only ten to fourteen people these days. It is hard to remember that the deaths continue, new President or no, rotten economy or no. But we must.
All the commentaries on the new presidency suggest that President Obama will have as his first test his ability to deal with the economy. I think not. I believe his first test will be about the arrogance of America, the making of war and its costs, and the doctrine of preemptive war.
Meanwhile we will have to remember every persons we send there, and the ones who will not come back alive or well.