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Lost Chopper in Afghanistan, and a Prayer

The Taliban shot down a Chinook transport helicopter like this one, seen in Kabul in 2004. (S.Sabawoon/European Pressphoto Agency)

One of my Daily Office members, someone dear to us named Dinah W. Danby, offers us this prayer after the terrible helicopter crash yesterday in Afghanistan. Thirty Americans were killed – including 22 Navy SEALS from the elite unit that killed Osama Bin Laden – along with 7 Afghan commandos, whose lives matter too:

O God of peace, we pray for the souls of those who died in Afghanistan today, and for their families. We thank you for their courage, for their faithfulness to country, and for their dedication to the spirit of freedom. O God of mercy, bring this war to a swift and safe close, and bring all those who fight in wars around the world home in safety to their families. We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

The Times has the story here.

I wrote back to Dinah:

It’s excellent.

Give me a day or two to think; maybe I’ll make it a permanent prayer on Tuesdays. Certainly what happened last night with that copter crash – Navy SEALS, a lot of them – needs our prayer. But you’ve written so broadly and well that I could be running this thing for the next year. Or two, or ten.

Sometimes people write and thank me for including the names of the dead [on the Daily Office websites]. I have mixed feelings about it. I am the son of a World War II veteran and you’d better believe that matters to me; my father was a POW in Nazi Germany. When he was finally liberated he weighed 85 pounds. A few years ago I met another WWII POW in Athens, Ohio, a retired professor; the first thing I asked him was “How much did you weigh?” He said, “87.” We bonded instantly.

But I also run the names to remind people, all this dying is happening in your name. They are kids, 19, 20, 30. They come from small towns; we don’t get soldiers from cities anymore. Kids join the Army because there aren’t any other jobs where they live.

If all the public does is watch TV (and that is all people do, I’m sorry to say) they don’t even remember these wars are going on. Thus my little headline, They Have Names.

Yet all I do is run the names of American soldiers, not the civilians; I guess those folks don’t have names. Not to us, anyway.

Yes, I honor our patriots. They’re worth our attention. But I want these wars over. So thank you, deeply, for saying that.

The debt ceiling wouldn’t have been such an issue if we weren’t running silent, trillion-dollar, pointless, interminable wars.

Don’t politicians get it? There isn’t any winning of wars anymore. We’re the only superpower; it’s not like a bunch of brass-buckled Bavarians are going to march out in perfect formation so we can have a stare-down or a firefight. All wars are guerrillas now, and an invading force cannot beat guerrillas. I’d have thought George Washington proved that, but no, off we go into the wild blue yonder.

The world needs a Savior in the worst way.

Josh

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