Thursday, April 07, 2011

Still at war? Or am I imagining that?

The body of Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliff, 32, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, arrives at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, on Tuesday.

You know, don't you, that the Rev. Fred Phelps and his demented "God hates fags" family down there in Wichita do a much better job of tracking our war dead than most of us do? Don't you think that's just a little peculiar? We're pretty mad when they show up at a funeral to protest. We wouldn't have known otherwise that there was a funeral, however.

I've told the story before about the newspaper editor type who some years ago during a meeting with other editors as we talked about placement of a story about an Iowa boy killed in Iraq, announced, "people don't want to read about dead soldiers any more."

He may have been right, and heaven knows we've got lots to think about these days, but still --- it's not every day some guy dies for your sins. Actually, it is almost every day; we're just too busy.

I'm guilty, too. Used to be, in Mason City, I attended every Wednesday evening a brief Compline for those Killed in Armed Conflict at St. John's. That service included a reading of the names of all who had died during the previous week, prayers for the dead and for their families --- and for peace. The dead also were remembered by name during Sunday morning services.

Since moving away and without that weekly prod, I've gotten careless.

According to the latest Department of Defense report (through April 6), 5,964 U.S. troops have died in combat or in support of it since March 19, 2003, and 42,913 have been wounded --- a sufficient number to keep Veterans Administration hospitals busy for another 60 years.

Although far fewer now die in Iraq (27 since Sept. 1, 2010), the numbers are accelerating in Afghanistan (a total of 1,516 now dead).

Here are the names of 10 whose deaths have been reported so far during April:

Spc. Dennis C. Poulin, 26, Cumberland, Rhode Island, March 31.

Staff Sgt. Quadi S. Hudgins (above), 26, of New Orleans, April 2.

Sgt. Christian A.S. Garcia, 30, Goodyear, Arizona, April 2.

1st Lt. Robert F. Welch III, 26, Denton, Texas, April 3.

Lance Cpl. Harry Lew (above), 21, of Santa Clara, Calif., April 3.

Staff Sgt. Scott H. Burgess, 32, of Franklin, Texas, April 4.

Staff Sgt. Michael S. Lammerts, 26, Tonawanda, New York, April 4.

Capt. Wesley J. Hinkley, 36, of Carlisle, Pa., April 4.

Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliff, 32, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, April 4.

Spc. Gary L. Nelson III, 20, of Woodstock, Georgia, April 5.

If you're interested in tracking our war dead, we're all free to use the same resource the Phelps family uses --- the  reports issued by the Department of Defense each time a war fatality is identifed. You'll find them here.

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