I found myself in total empathy with the parents of the slain college students at Virgina Tech. Having lost a child of my own a year ago, I understand intimately the pain which they now must bear.
As the news moved on to the war in Iraq, so did my thoughts. Without taking a thing from the sympathy for the Blacksburg parents, I realized that these young people who are dying in Iraq are contemporaries of the college kids. Who grieves for them?
Those who fell in service to our country are hidden from our sight and rarely mentioned by name unless they qualify as "heroes". They fly home under cover of night and then are treated as baggage on commercial flights until they are taken to their home town. Their family, friends, and neighbors turn out for their funeral with none taking notice.
The funeral over, the families go home to deal with their own desolation as they reflect on the life that was lost and the hopes and dreams that will never come to fruition. They will forever wonder why.
Now, with the "all-volunteer army", the fear and grief fall upon young wives and small children in most cases as the fighting is done by a few who are having their service extended until it must seem to them that the only way home is "in a box". When they are killed, they are little more than numbers on a tote board and little grief is known outside their intimate circle. Their survivors will not have the comfort that is brought about by televised funeral services, on-camera interviews, and the knowledge that the whole nation is sharing their grief.
[Excerpt of a post by Mary Pitt]