Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

James Riekena, Rest in Peace

The occupation of Iraq has claimed the life of another young American solider:
The Defense Department says a 22-year-old soldier from Redmond, Wash., died Sunday of injuries suffered when a roadside bomb blew up near his vehicle in Iraq.

The soldier, Specialist James D. Riekena, was assigned to a unit from Post Falls, Idaho, the 145th Brigade Support Battalion.
Over three thousand of our nation's men and women in uniform have lost their lives in this conflict, which was started by an unnecessary, preemptive invasion that was sold to the American public and Congress by the Bush administration and its allies on false premises and a pack of lies.

I see news briefs like this - as well as obituaries - frequently. And though I always feel sadness over the lives lost, this particular tragedy is different for me.

I knew James Riekena.

I wasn't a close friend of his, but I was an acquaintance, and I've always thought of him as a great person. He was a friendly mentor who was loyal, dependable, and helpful. I am grieved by his death but I am sure I cannot comprehend how saddened his family is feeling at this moment, and how much they are hurting knowing that he is gone from this earth.

Here's a brief biographical sketch, courtesy of P-I reporter Mike Barber:
The second of five children, Riekena is survived by his mother and his father, John D. Riekena, who works for Washington Mutual and lives in Redmond. Born in Montana, Riekena moved with his family to the Redmond area in 1993. He was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Redmond High School in 2002. He went to Idaho to work and joined the National Guard there, becoming a combat engineer, before moving back to Redmond.

His specialty was finding and disarming bombs.
Watching Bush's stooges on the Daily Show tonight, defending their latest plan to escalate this conflict, was nothing less than utterly disgusting. America is sick of their dishonesty and carelessness. Iraq has cost billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of precious American lives, and these guys are on cable TV talk shows saying we need to sacrifice more. Repeating the same old garbage.

These people know nothing about sacrifice.

Bush and Cheney are perfectly comfortable sending our troops off to war, but they refused to serve our country themselves when they had the chance decades ago. Neither do they have any qualms about launching a barrage of personal attacks against people who did serve and are opposed to their failed, flawed policies. (Remember the swiftboating of John Kerry? I haven't forgotten it).

James Riekena wanted to serve his country, serve on the front lines, and he did. But he didn't need to be a casualty of a war started and perpetuated by a gang of ambitious chickenhawks and conservative zealots seemingly divorced from reality (or at least uninterested in its consequences).

James was only 22. Had he lived, I am sure he would have had a rewarding life. It's a terrible shame that it got cut short so tragically.

<< Home