"Take a Good Look At My Face. . ."

Sometimes a tune gets stuck in your brain like: "People say I'm the life of the party 'cause I tell a joke or two; Although I might be laughing loud and hearty, Deep inside I'm blue; So take a good look at my face -- You'll see my smile looks out of place; If you look closer it's easy to trace the tracks of my tears." and then I just wait until it takes me where it's apparently supposed to. In this case, to -- www.militarycity.com.

This is an all-too handy site for looking up what are called the "Faces of Valor" -- the fallen in Iraq.

Since we're up to more than 1,100 U.S. fatalities now it's way past time to get to know some of these faces and clusters of faces more closely than we have heretofore. Some weeks, they dropped so quickly, it's seemed like a blur, didn't it? And if you don't have an immediate member of your family or a friend or an associate overseas in harm's way then "collateral losses" can feel, well, foreign. So I suggest you pull up a good map while you're at it. There are many online, such as the www.defendamerica.mil/iraq example. This isn't going to cost you a penny, just a few moments of your thoughts, your conscience, and possibly your prayers -- of course, that's all up to you.

In my case, having tracked all sorts of soldiers stories and groupings of soldiers incidents, I decided to take a closer look at all of the fatalities associated with the military base closest to my home. Within 300 or so miles of any of you, though, there's got to be such a military base. Why don't you follow along and replicate my exercise?

You look down the list and notice obvious characteristics such as those below. You can't help but wonder about the men and women whose names appear. With many there are pictures too; sometimes they were smiling.

> surname (ethnicity)
> rank
> unit assigned
> age
> home state
> enemy fire, accident, 'friendly fire,' under-investigation, suicide (an inexplicably high rate which nobody in the DOD wants to talk about)
> location killed

And then you take a highlighter and Dot the map where they fell. Then look back on the U.S. map and Dot the map of the hometowns where flags were at half-mast and families were left broken apart forever. Such a condensed area where they fell and such a sprawling country we are.

My list is long. Only a couple were our 'own' local residents. My list is made up of your Marines from DuQuoin, Illinois, Vancouver, Washington, Milford, Mass., Scio, NY, Mountain Grove, Missouri, Jefferson, Ohio, Ottawa, Kansas, Edinburg, Texas, and several other states. You shared them with us right here for awhile before sharing them with the Nation and then the World. Now they rest with the warriors of all time and God himself rules dominion.

Take a moment and get to know them before they go. Should they ever appear in a newspaper near you, get to know their faces. Remember their dependent children if you can (financially) and the myriad of lives forever compromised by their devotion to duty. Their execution of orders, of delivering democracy to the post-war occupational defenses of an unforgiving land, leaves an endless "track of tears."

The beat goes on. . .