On April 3, a Marine from Ithaca, Cpl. Christopher D. Bordoni, died from injuries sustained in a suicide attack in Afghanistan in January. Last week, thousands of people lined the highway as his body was transported from the airport in Syracuse to Ithaca for burial. Hundreds of Ithacans stood outside with American flags to welcome this Marine home for the last time.
More than 750 people jammed into the Immaculate Conception Church downtown, a testament to the impact that this Marine had on the community. They shared stories about the way Afghani children looked up to Bordoni and about his fight to stay alive after he was critically injured. To see this outpouring of support from the local community was inspiring.
Witnessing the flashing lights from the motorcade bouncing off the silent faces of a hundred or more people from the Ithaca community who gathered in front of Bang’s Funeral Home stirs feelings of pride. Nothing that we say here can properly honor the sacrifice that this Marine made for his country.
While Ithacans came together to honor this Marine, Cornell remained detached from the events of the week. The only thing different on campus was that the flags flew at half mast.
Cornellians are fortunate to have avoided direct human suffering that accompanies the war in Afghanistan. No Cornellian has yet died in the war. However, this fact should not let us slide into ignorance. The war in Afghanistan has claimed thousands of lives, including 72 American soldiers so far this year.
Though Cornellians may disagree on the best course of action to end the war in Afghanistan, the sacrifices of those individuals who have served cannot go unrecognized. Tens of thousands of troops remain stationed in Afghanistan. Some of these are graduates of Cornell and Cornell’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.
It is all too easy to remain disconnected from the reality of the conflict being fought overseas. This distance renders the war abstract and allows us to forget what war really entails. The war becomes perceived only in terms of numbers, politics and ideas. The outpouring of support from the Ithaca community proves that this conflict is about much more than that. It is about the individual soldiers who put on a uniform every day.