Today is our 2,995th day in Iraq, and our 3,511th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4454 3511
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4313
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3595
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 226
Since Operation New Dawn: 36
Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 318
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,598
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 891
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,487
Journalists - Iraq: 348
Academics Killed - Iraq: 448
We find this morning's cost of war
passing through: $ 1, 202, 126, 250, 000. 00
Well, it was all over the news yesterday. Perhaps that preacher in California just missed the date, because if the KKK counter-protesting Westboro Baptist
isn't one of the signs of the Apocalypse....I don't know what is.
Washington (CNN) -- Protesting members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church were met with an unlikely group of counterprotesters Monday at Arlington Cemetery.
Hours before President Barack Obama led the nation's Memorial Day observances at the Tomb of the Unknowns, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church were challenged by others who disagreed with them -- including members claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan.
The Kansas-based church has attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members.
Among those counter-protesting at the cemetery's main entrance: About 10 members of a group that claims to be a branch of the Ku Klux Klan from Virginia called the Knights of the Southern Cross. They were cordoned off separately in a nearby area, but drew little attention as they gave out small American flags behind a banner that read "POW-MIA."
They said they were there to object to the Westboro Baptist Church's anti-troop message.
"It's the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech," said Dennis LaBonte, the self-described "Imperial Wizard" of the KKK group that he said he formed several years ago.
"That's fine," said Abigail Phelps, the daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. "They have no moral authority on anything.
"People like them say it's white power ... white supremacy," Phelps said. "The Bible doesn't say anywhere that it's an abomination to be born of a certain gender or race."
LaBonte insisted he is not a racist nor a "hate-monger," but said he believes the white race is "slowly and most assuredly being denigrated."
Members of the group declined to say whether they were armed.
A larger group of about 70 protesters -- separate from the KKK -- located across the street waved pro-USA signs and took turns shouting down the Westboro Baptist Church group.
Some of the counterprotesters, including Malaika Elias, stood in front of the Westboro participants in an attempt to block them from street view.
"I think they're twisted and confused, and we're just here to show them there are people who think they're completely wrong," Elias said.
Many passersby shouted their thanks to the counterprotesters as they entered the cemetery on foot and in vehicles.
Several police officers, some on horseback, observed the proceedings.
Phelps said her trio was there to tell people they should not "idolize" the dead, especially those who died for an "unrighteous cause."
Two things from Mother Jones magazine to ponder on this post-Memorial day. First, a brief photo essay
about those special soldiers that prepare their fellow war-dead for their final journey home.
Secondly...I posted this yesterday through Facebook, but you should all take a look at this, too. Remembering America's soldiers...with charts.
How long should you spend commemorating Memorial Day? It can be accomplished in just 60 seconds if you follow a 2000 presidential memo from Bill Clinton that encouraged Americans "to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all." That comes out to 0.0000446 seconds of reflection for each of the approximately 1.3 million Americans who have died in uniform since the earliest days of the republic (according to Wikipedia).
If you have some more time, check out these charts about those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Let's start with a quick review of the biggest conflicts in American history: