"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Sad to the depths of his 4-year-old soul, Jack Shanaberger knew what he didn't want to be when he grows up: a father.
"I don't want to be a daddy because daddies die," the child solemnly told his mother after his father, Staff Sgt. Wentz "Baron" Shanaberger, a military policeman from Fort Pierce, Fla., was killed March 23 in an ambush in Iraq....
[F]rom Defense Department casualty reports, obituaries and accounts in hometown newspapers, and family interviews, Scripps Howard News Service has identified nearly 900 U.S. children who have lost a parent in the war, from the start of the conflict in March 2003 through November, when a total of 1,256 troops had died....
According to the Scripps research, more than 40 percent of the 1,256 war dead through November were married, and 429 had children. At least half of those youngsters were 10 years old or younger. Among the parents who died were six women soldiers who had borne a total of 10 children among them - another historic first for females in the U.S. military.
Perhaps most heartbreaking are the more than 40 troops who died without ever seeing their children. At least 34 wives were pregnant - four with twins - when their husbands died, and another 15 had babies while their spouses were deployed. While some of the latter were able to return home on paternity leave, most died before they could.
Dear Mr. President: How the hell can you sleep?