It is reasonably well known in this country that 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, but how many Vietnamese died during the same conflict? Estimates vary, but the number (including civilians) may be as much as 50 times larger. We feel bad about the Americans dying in Iraq, as we should, but consider that the toll on Iraqis is much much higher. No matter what other viewpoints or emotions you bring to the conflict, this is a point to ponder. My brother-in-law Craig is an artist who, essentially, put this issue to some high school students at the Thomas Jefferson School in St. Louis, Missouri. He created a collaborative artwork with some instructions for the students. The following is from the school’s website.
Craig sent eighty-eight packages to Thomas Jefferson School, enough for each student. Each package consisted of a small wooden grave marker and a set of printed instructions. The instructions asked each student to find the name of an Iraqi civilian who has been killed in the fighting of the last two years. When possible, each person was to select someone of about his or her own age, and someone whose name begins with the same letter as his or her own name. They were then to write that personâ€™s name on the grave marker.