just wait, it's coming! dddragon presents: Is Anything Truly Random?

Thursday, October 27, 2005


This column is in today's local newspaper, and I think it's well-written and should have a larger audience:

2,000 lives lost in war weigh down our hearts
Thursday, October 27, 2005

by Nancy Eshelman, columnist for The Patriot News

If I collected 2,000 pennies, I'd have $20.

From there, it's all about perspective.

If you're in kindergarten with a $20 bill, you're queen of the world.

If you're the average working stiff, you know that $20 won't even fill up the gas tank anymore.

It's that way with our losses in this maddening war in Iraq.

For many of us, 2,000 represents a tragic number.

Although it was splashed across the fronts of newspapers yesterday, it's a silly milestone, really.
Aren't 1,999 or 2,001 just as horrifying?

While he shares the nation's pain, a World War II veteran reminded me the other day that 2,000 pales in comparison with the 405,399 who died in his war.

Likewise, for my contemporaries who fought in Vietnam, the numbers in this most recent war don't come near the loss of 58,209 from our generation.

Still, for someone like me, who bends to pluck a penny in a parking lot, every one is valuable. Conversely, the loss of even one is unacceptable.

We need to dwell on the number, to put it in perspective, to feel it.

If we collected 2,000 pennies and rolled them in coin wrappers, we'd fill 40 wrappers.

You can pick up a coin wrapper and feel the weight.

Put one in each hand. Feel the weight double.

Try to scoop up five or six in each hand. Or dump all 40 in a sack and pick it up. It's a heavy load to carry.

Maybe you'd prefer to place the 40 coin wrappers on a table. You could roll them around. Try to stack them. Watch them tumble.

Or maybe you'd rather not wrap your pennies at all. Just dump all 2,000 on the table top and run your fingers through them. So many. Each worth something.

Visualize yourself driving down Route 15.

Eventually you arrive in Dillsburg, a pleasant little community. In the last census, the population of Dillsburg was 2,063.

Imagine tomorrow that everyone in Dillsburg just vaporized, disappeared.

Imagine how horrified we'd be. Imagine the headlines.

But if the people of Dillsburg disappeared one at a time, like pennies rolling off a table, the loss would be less noticeable.

Soldiers die day after day in Iraq.

We notice the local guys we lose. We grieve and we mourn and we splash our loss across the front page.

Proximity makes them more valuable, like wheat pennies from the early part of the 20th century that people collect.

We pay less attention to the fellows from Pittsburgh, maybe even less to guys who call Wyoming or Nevada or Florida home.

But they have just as much value.

What scares me is the vast supply of pennies.

May we never reach numbers like those in Vietnam or World War II.

But our pennies will keep dropping off the table until folks across the country count up the loss and scream, "Enough!"

NANCY ESHELMAN: 717-255-8163 or neshelman@patriot-news.com


At 1:53 PM, Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

Wow. I had not even heard that the toll reached 2,000. The news in Miami has been taken over by stories of downed trees and people waiting in line for hours just to buy $20 in gas.

Now, waiting in line for 6 hours to buy a few measly gallons of fuel seems piddly.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger dddragon said...

iguana: we've seen news footage of people fighting in gas lines!

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Wow, Dddragon. Thanks for sharing that. I hate the idea of comparing people to pennies but I hate worse that it's so apt.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger actonbell said...

That is a heart-felt, sensitive column. Part of the tragedy is that there's so much history behind us--shouldn't it teach us something?

At 7:33 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

2001 lives now as of yesterday morning. It is truly sad, and my heart goes out to all the men, women and their families.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger AP3 said...

That's a nice piece, thanks for sharing it.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

It's 2003 now I think. There was a candle light vigil in Harrisburg tonight.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

George: "What's few pennies among friends?"

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I honor each and every person who has died. They have my deepest gratitude. I don't see any comparison to the numbers of Vietnam or WWII, and I am so thankful for that. These losses are very real and very painful and should never be trivialized. Pain is pain no matter how you slice it.
I am probably not in agreement with you or with the writer of this article as to our role in Iraq, because I want us to complete what we've started and what those we've lost died for. It is a messy and terrible war, on this we can agree, and my heart grieves for their families.
Thanks for posting the article.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

2,000 now, huh? THanks for sharing this.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Minka said...

I remember a time when I watched the news and was shocked to hear that someone had died. Today, most people are used to hear about pain adn suffering on a daily basis, that only enourmous tragedies cause a reaction. How numb have we become. How much does it take to shake us awake. What force needs to be unleased to make us realize that anything could happen to us as well.


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