When I was 21 I got married to my high school sweetheart. I was working at a real estate company in a swanky part of L.A., and my wife was finishing her last year of undergrad studies. We were soon to leave for a year abroad, the first in a non-stop series of better and better years in our life together.
We grew up, we learned, we vacationed, we moved a few times, we had children.
When Jeremiah Baro was 21, he died in enemy action in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. With his 22 year-old friend, Jared P. Hubbard.
The Defense Department last week also identified the following American military personnel killed in Afghanistan and Iraq:
Jeremy Bow, 20.
John Byrd, 23.
Kelley Courtney, 28.
Maurice Fortune, 25.
Travis Fox, 25.
James Kearney, 22.
Christopher Lapka, 22.
Charles Webb, 22.
Cody Wentz, 21.
And John Lukac and Andrew Riedel, both only 19 years old.
That was just last week, and that's a far-from-complete listing. Not to mention the other deaths that are less "tragic", to the media - those in their 30s, or 40s, or those killed in "friendly fire."
I don't like that we're in Iraq, and I don't know how we can get out of there. But I will not get used to the feeling I get in my stomach when I see another casualty listed in the paper, and I will not consider these "acceptable losses."