So it's been three years since we went into Iraq. So far there have been nearly 2,300 U.S. troops killed - male and female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab - and it doesn't appear that we are any closer to the end than we were last year. The President has declared "Mission Accomplished" aboard an aircraft carrier. I wonder if the families who lost loved ones this year believe him?
The Associated Press line reads "BC-Afghan-US Toll Capsules." It's one of those things that is supposed to get your attention among the thousands of stories that come across the wire. There was another one that read " BC-Iraq-US Toll capsules-February, 4 takes" . Four takes! That means there are so many that it takes four reports to cover them all.
I thought that it might be appropriate to let you know some of them (These are the AP reports)
Army 1st Lt. Garrison C. Avery
Fourth-graders at Chanhassen Elementary School loved getting letters from Garrison C. Avery, who told them about Iraq and the children he had met there.
The class also sent Avery a care package filled with stuff -- coloring books and crayons, trail mix, chewing gum and hand lotion.
"When I was writing the letter to him, I didn't even think about him being killed or anything like that," said Julia Galler, 9. "It didn't even cross my mind."
Avery, 23, of Lincoln, Neb., was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Feb. 1. He was assigned to Fort Campbell.
Army Spc. Marlon A. Bustamante
Marlon A. Bustamante's devotion to his country was so strong that his younger brother, Omar Ciro, followed him into the Army.
"He believed if the president called him to do a job, it was his duty," Ciro said.
Bustamante, 25, of New York, was killed by a roadside bomb Feb. 1 in Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Campbell and was on his second tour.
Marine Pfc. Sean T. Cardelli
Sean T. Cardelli loved to cook and eat. He was particularly fond of his grandmother's mostaccioli and chicken cacciatore and liked anything spicy, particularly chorizo and tamales.
"Instead of going out and getting something to eat," said his friend Joe Torres, "he'd go in the fridge and say, 'We can make something.' My mom would wake up at 1 in the morning and see Sean cooking something over her stove."
Cardelli, 20, of Downers Grove, Ill., was killed Feb. 1 by small-arms fire near Fallujah.
Marine Pfc. Javier Chavez Jr.
Orosi High Assistant Principal Gabriela Medina remembers Javier Chavez Jr. -- but not for getting in trouble.
"He never had to be sent to the office," Medina said. "He was really quiet but very mature for his age."
Chavez, 19, of Cutler, Calif., was killed Feb. 9 by an explosive near Fallujah.
Marine Staff Sgt. Jay T. Collado
Bernie Grivetti, a social studies teacher who coached Jay T. Collado in football and soccer, remembered the Marine as a tough competitor despite his standing only about 5-foot-4.
"Jay was a small kid with a lot of heart," Grivetti said. "He always had a smile on his face. He was a very well-behaved young man who was disciplined, hardworking, and conscientious."
Collado, 31, of Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 20 in a bomb blast near Baghdad.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Lance S. Cornett
Family members said Lance S. Cornett loved his career and his country.
"Lance took great honor in protecting our freedoms and our way of life," a family statement said. "We are so proud of Lance's bravery, selflessness and sense of duty."
Cornett, 33, of London, Ky., was killed Feb. 3 by injuries sustained during combat near Ramadi. He was assigned to Fort Bragg.
Army Spc. Clay P. Farr
When he was a boy, Clay P. Farr colored everything camouflage, until his kindergarten teacher broke the news to him that camouflage isn't really a color.
"He was born a little soldier," said his mother, Carrol Alderete.
Farr didn't let personal tragedy distract him from his drive to serve. In February 2004, shortly after he started boot camp, his fiancee was killed in a car accident.
But when the Army wanted to stop his training so he could grieve and start again in six months, he refused.
Farr, 21, of Bakersfield, Calif., was killed Feb. 26 in Baghdad by a roadside bomb. He was a 2003 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Drum.
These are just a few of those who have paid for the freedoms we enjoy. God give them leaders who deserve such sacrifice!