Since 2001, 1,622 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan, and since 2003, 4462 have died in Iraq, according to iCasualties, a website that tracks the latest Defense Department data. In the decade we have been at war, tens of thousands -- nearly 44,000 American men and women serving in combat -- have been injured, and countless soldiers carry injuries that are invisible. Behind each of the roughly 2.2 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan is a family.
Soldiers come back to civilian life surrounded by very few, if any, people who understand what they have lived through, like the constant danger that trained their ears to tell the distance away of a sniper's bullet from the sound it makes as it zips past. There is adrenaline addiction and post-traumatic stress, and the soldiers who make it home enter the arms of loved ones who carried the burden of worry and anxious prayer. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the war, it is called serving one's country for a reason, and soldiers never serve alone.
In honor of the families of servicemen and women, Philadelphia's finest, The Roots performed for a near at-capacity benefit on the USS Intrepid Thursday night, with the goal of raising $1 million for Wounded Warriors Family Support Initiative. The Nebraska-based non-profit, founded by Colonel John D. Folsom, runs a resort in Orlando, Florida to nurture families of those who have been wounded or killed in combat.
To an audience of mostly Wall Street types -- dark suits and brightly colored ties and glittery gowns and dresses -- and men and women in service uniforms, from marines to firefighters, The Roots did what they do best and brought down the house. The Manhattan skyline felt like theater walls on the massive deck of the Intrepid. A group of half a dozen towering models in light-rose, flowing Celestino Couture danced at the side of the stage. After an hour-long set of classics and a "Sweet Child O' Mine" cover, The Roots kicked it to a group of older gentlemen in Scottish garb behind the audience to play what sounded like a military march on the bagpipes and wind the evening to a close. With dozens of corporate sponsors, the event raised $600,000 for military families, with more donations still to be counted.