Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Yet another local killed in Iraq

Ayro was one of mess-tent bombing victims; media exploits death

Today's top editorial in The Daily Advertiser grabbed my attention this afternoon. And not for the usual reason, but because it illustrated so many things that are wrong about the Iraq War and the American mindset in general.

But first, a little background:

JEANERETTE — Funeral services for Pfc. Lionel Ayro, 22, killed last week in Iraq, will be at 1 p.m. Friday at First Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jeanerette.

Ayro was among 22 who died in an explosion at a mess tent at a U.S. Army base near Mosul. His body was brought home Tuesday night, said a spokesperson for Fletcher Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements for the family. Police will escort escort [sic] the family to the church about 11:30 a.m. Friday.

So sad and tragic. But not at all unprecedented. And probably not the last for south Louisiana, being that virtually every soldier we have (from the National Guard on up) is currently on active duty in Iraq. I, for one, don't know what's worse--that this is happening, or that Louisianians seem to want this to happen to our troops. Are we this desperate for heroes and role models? Here's the editorial:

There is truth in the words of Marine Lance Cpl. Samuel Crist of Lafayette, who is recovering from wounds suffered in the battle for Fallujah. "We started something, so we've got to finish it," he said. "If we stop and pull everybody out, what we've done so far is worthless."

Which might make sense, if the entire chronology of the war didn't prove the peril of "staying the course."

These words are worth bearing in mind as we reflect on another death in Iraq - the fifth Acadiana soldier to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Why do we turn every military death into an increased case for war? What the hell are we trying to prove? That we're stubborn?

Family members and friends are mourning the loss of Army Pfc. Lionel Ayro, 22, of Jeanerette. He was killed when an explosion destroyed a mess tent at a U.S. base near Mosul.

Ayro was special. He has been described by loved ones as the kind of young man anyone would admire - who "always thought about others"; who was always asking "how can I help you"; who had an "over-large heart"; and who had "compassion for others."

These are beautiful tributes and it is uplifting that family and friends gathered, not to talk of loss, but to share memories of his admirable qualities. To the long list of attributes listed by those who knew and loved him, we would add only one - heroic. He stood strong in the face of danger and gave his all for his country.

Precisely the good kind of people that jerks like George W. Bush and his useless administration exploit for their pathetic capitalistic adventures.

His grandmother, Clementine Ayro, always expected him to be a hero. Her expectations have been met, although not in a way she would have hoped.

Even for an editorial tribute, this is in really bad taste. If ever anyone in the media framed the death of one of my relatives this way, I would have them fired for such a serious breach of journalistic (not to mention human) ethics.

Perhaps for her and the rest of his family, that knowledge will ease somewhat the pain of losing one so very special. We join in mourning his death, and in saluting his heroism.

Personally, I'd rather be alive then be a hero; particularly in this useless war, my top priority would be getting out alive, as no doubt Ayro felt. Are we so hungry for heroes that we're willing to rationalize deaths in this way? Perhaps this is intended to ease the pain of death; otherwise, I'd have to ask how being killed while eating makes one a hero. I mourn this young man's death as much as anyone apart from those who knew and loved him; still, why can't these deaths illustrate the tragedy of war rather than be turned into stories of why our troops must die for some abstract idea of macho heroism?

At least someone seems to care about soldiers' lives. I'm surprised it appeared on the same page.


ThomasMcCay said...

It is disturbing how they use these young men, even after death to excuse more death.

Now, it isn't even a good thing we are doing, it has become something we have started and think we must finish, to give meaning to those already wasted. T'is madness.

On one hand, it is not surprising that relatives and friends will praise the young mans' courage and mouth some media repeated support for the war. From the familiy's view, any thing else would demean the young man and admit he was killed for nothing worth while.

As I said in a recent blog on the same dismal subject, "But go back and ask them again in a couple of years or less. Some lonely night the unanswered question, Why? will creep into the hearts of those who cared most and that question will never have a good believable answer."

A very good article Ian, thanks. I've been out of the South for so long, I sometimes forget that a lot of very good folks live there. People who don't live down to the stupid stereotype of the redneck Southerner.

Courtney said...

There are people who go out in the world and make things happen.....and then there are people who sit around and bitch on the internet.....guess which one you are? At least we know which side Lionel Ayro was on...There are people like Lionel who are the reason you get to sit on your ass and bitch about everything.

Ian McGibboney said...

Courtney, our locals are not dying in Iraq for myself or for anyone else. The cause is useless, which is what makes it doubly sad when good people die for it.

But by definition, people who fight for free speech fight for yours as well as mine. I am appalled that you think I shouldn't use mine. Forgive me, but I have a duty to speak out against that which I think is wrong. Freedom of speech is not about blindly accepting what the Bush White House force-feeds us.

If you're going to accuse me of using someone's death to make a political point, then you shouldn't do the same thing (by pitting me against Lionel). I suggest you and everyone else who have attacked me on this site research this war and its false pretenses. Maybe then you wouldn't be so eager to denounce those who are saddened by its futile consequences. I'm not your enemy.