December 29, 2004

Counting the Dead

I've been feeling like I should say something about the earthquake and tidal waves, but I've been completely unable to think of anything to say. Honestly, it's so big, so overwhelming, that I have a hard time feeling anything about it--it's practically impossible to even grasp it. I watch the news and it feels like, well, watching tv. Like it must be a new re-make of The Day After Tomorrow, because things like this don't actually happen in real life, right? Every time I turn on the news, the death toll has leapt upward by 10,000, or 15,000, or 20,000. It stands at at least 80,000 right now. See, that's just too many. That's up there with Rwanda, and Hiroshima, and Bergen-Belsen--things that are almost mythological, things that could never happen to anyone you know.*

So, I've finally figured out how to have an emotional response to it; I've found my handle. It's this, from CNN: Bush also announced that the Pentagon is 'dispatching...the aircraft carrier [USS] Abraham Lincoln and the maritime preposition squadron from Guam to the area to help with relief efforts.'"

How selfish am I to be thinking that I don't want my husband sent over there? There are so many people going through inconceivable pain, but I want him to come home and stay here. You see, although the pres didn't mention it, the King is a Seabee, which is a Navy construction worker. One of their specialties is going to the locations of natural disasters and rebuilding, bringing in electricity and clean water and working sewers, and building homes for those who are homeless.

That all sounds great, and I really am so proud of him for it, but the thing is, the last time he was sent on a major humanitarian mission, Somali soldiers tried to shoot him and blow him up, and just a few days after he was allowed to come home, Black Hawk Down happened. It was probably the most dangerous mission he's ever been on, including when the embassy in Kabul was bombed while he was inside it.

I know, it wouldn't be that way this time, and the chances of him going are very minimal, but I still worry. Please don't think I'm a total jerk for it.

*Ironically, unlike Rwanda and Hiroshima and Bergen-Belsen, I actually do have an acquaintance who is involved. He grew up on the beach where the movie The Beach was filmed. His entire family still lives there, and as far as I can tell, that beach no longer exists. I hope he and his family is safe, but there's really no way to know.

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