I opened an envelope with a donation for Operation Ward 57 and $1,000 slid out.
I looked, stood up and walked around. I took a breath.
I looked again. Yup: $1,000.
And that's not all. I am amazed at what I have tapped into here. I am humbled. I am overwhelmed.
I am getting a sore wrist from opening envelopes. More than 190, and counting. You guys are killing me.
Which is fine. Last Friday I mailed $9,189 to Operation Ward 57. Another $4,000 will be going in later this week. There have been too many donations for me to acknowledge individually, and for this I apologize. Operation Ward 57 will send you an official thank you and receipt.
From me again: Thank you.
Never, in 17 years of using this column to beg for Multiple Sclerosis, or promote causes, have I had a response this huge. Thanks to you, Operation Ward 57's work helping our wounded soldiers has gotten a badly needed boost.
I'm ashamed it took the wounding of one Ogden soldier, the son of a friend, to make me see the suffering our wounded soldiers and their families go through. That's how it works, though: Until war hits home it's too easy to ignore.
It does not help that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are practically hidden.
News media are to blame, but so is our government. The Defense Department issues terse releases about soldiers killed, but nary a peep about hundreds from Utah, 44,000 around the nation, who are wounded. The family of one local kid even told me they've been asked to keep quiet, citing "military secrecy."
Maybe the cost. Governments hate it when people learn what stuff costs.
Vietnam's wounded still cost us billions. A recent study said just caring for the wounded from the current wars will cost $1 trillion over the next decade.
Americans don't need to be protected from knowing this. They'll pay, if the war is worth fighting.
Our parents and grandparents knew war's cost. In World War II they bought war bonds, paid up to 90 percent tax rates and lived with rationed food, clothes and gasoline while 416,000 of their kin died.
Is our government worried that we, The Greatest Generation's children, will freak out if told our income tax has to go up 4 percent, or our gasoline cost 50 cents more, for these wars?
If it is worried -- if we really would freak out -- we need to end the wars.
Our so-called leaders make me ashamed. The wars were barely mentioned during the last three elections. While soldiers died we were spoon-fed bumper sticker Pablum.
"Go shopping or the terrorists win," the politicians said.
"Yes, America Can!" we were told.
"Change you can believe in," they said.
"Take our country back" they blathered.
Americans will help a good cause. If there's one theme to the notes enclosed with these donations, it is "Thank you for letting me know how I can help our soldiers."
Many donors fought in wars. Many suffered losses in wars past or current. Whether $5 or $500, they sent what they could. Many were sorry it wasn't more.
And, yeah, one sent in $1,000.
The guy is in his 80s. When he called to make sure I'd gotten it (Yes! Thank you!) I asked what motivated him.
"I was in the Air Force 20 years, quite a long time ago, during the Korean War," he said. "I know what those guys are going through."
He knows. That's enough.