On The Washington Post, Marine Capt. Timothy Kudo, "a graduate student at New York University, deployed to Iraq in 2009 and to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011," examines the "moral injury" of war veterans, torn between knowing that killing is always wrong, but that in war, it is necessary. "How could something be both immoral and necessary?"
I didn't have time to resolve this question before deploying. And in the first few months, I fell right into killing without thinking twice. We were simply too busy to worry about the morality of what we were doing.
But one day in Afghanistan in 2010, my patrol got into a firefight and ended up killing two people on a motorcycle who we thought were about to attack us. They ignored or didn't understand our warnings to stop, and according to the military's "escalation of force" guidelines, we were authorized to shoot them in self-defense. Although we thought they were armed, they turned out to be civilians. One looked no older than 16.
It's been more than two years since we killed those people on the motorcycle, and I think about them every day. Sometimes it's when I'm reading the news or watching a movie, but most often it's when I'm taking a shower or walking down my street in Brooklyn.
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