Sunday, April 04, 2004

"Soldiers Killed"

I saw the headline today:

Ten U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Violence
Number of American Service Members Killed Reaches at Least 610


When I was a very little girl my parents took my sisters and brother and me to a funeral home. They were attending the wake of an old aunt or distant cousin, whom I 'd never met. Rob was a baby in my mother's arms.

My sisters and I were bored and so we wandered off to explore the elegant old house. There was another room with a casket across the hall. Nobody was there and the coffin was open. We tip-toed up to peek inside. Lying on the white satin pillow was a most handsome boy of about 18 or 19 years. He wore a dark green, army dress uniform, and by the way the fabric dipped, I could see that his left arm and part of his left leg were missing.

The Vietnam war had been a staple of television news for as long as I could remember. It was the backround noise of my childhood, until that moment when the words "soldiers killed" took on a face. That face was young, and beautiful, and cold. I shall never forget it.

I see that young soldier's face each time I read those words in the news, or hear them broadcast. I have been thinking about him a lot lately.

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