Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This side of the looking glass

Researching something totally unrelated to Iraq, I checked into the homepage of the major newspaper of my childhood, the Baltimore Sun. A little link titled "Maryland's Fallen" caught my eye. (I can't directly link to it; you'll see why if you go to the site and click on it. I'm guessing it's always there, but might move from one day's layout to the next. Today it appeared under the lead story about the bombed golden-domed shrine.) (2-23 edit: this link will take you to the Sun's Iraq page, which leads to the "Maryland's Fallen" presentation.)

I clicked on it and began reading, looking.

A few moments in, I felt as if I had fallen out of the looking glass and back into reality, since my current hometown's newspaper would declare Cindy Sheehan Day before it would assemble a feature like this. Not overtly political, the Sun's tribute nevertheless reports the ugly truth in great detail: people, beloved people, die in the service of this enterprise.

This is not unlike the Nightline broadcast of a few years ago that featured the names and photos of the then-721 dead: respectful, somber...real.

Each of the (currently 39) soldiers receives a full profile, including photos and links to stories about him (in one case, her).

The most heartbreaking part is the "view by date" section which includes a timeline. Only three of the 39 died before "Bush declares end to major combat."

While the government sneaks the coffins in down the road in Dover, Delaware, the Sun reminds us that the dead are neither statistics, nor invisible. The dead are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends.

They deserve, at minimum, the respect the Sun offers here.

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