Archived Story

Death should never be routine

Published 7:18pm Friday, April 27, 2012

I deal with death every day.

Reporting the deaths in our community is part of every newspaper’s routine.  It’s a very important part of our job. Obituaries are among the most-read features of our newspaper and anyone who reads our obituaries knows our newspaper deals with the subject daily.

What most people don’t realize is that I deal with other deaths on a daily basis, too.

The U.S. Department of Defense sends me an email concerning every active-duty military death.

Some days, I just quickly glance at the name and hometown to make sure it’s not someone who is from our newspaper’s coverage areas.

It’s a routine, like deleting emails from Facebook. I don’t give it another thought.

However, on other days I have to steel myself before clicking open a “DOD Identifies Army Casualty” email, because I’m afraid it will be a day when a name I know pops up on the computer screen.

It rarely is, but I look just the same.

Today I got three notices:

- The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Jason K. Edens, 22, of Franklin, Tenn., died April 26, in Bethesda, Md., of wounds sustained April 15, in Laghman province, Afghanistan, when the enemy attacked his unit with small arms fire.

Edens was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

- The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Moises J. Gonzalez, 29, Huntington, Calif., died April 25, in Balkh province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his vehicle rolled over.

Gonzalez was assigned to the 509th Combat Service Support Company, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

- The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lt. Christopher E. Mosko, 28, of Pittsford, N.Y., died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Nawa district, Ghazni province, Afghanistan.   Mosko was assigned as a Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Platoon Commander to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, Afghanistan.  Mosko was stationed at EOD Mobile Unit 3, San Diego, Calif.

I don’t know Edens or Mosko or Gonzalez. I don’t think I know any of their family or friends, though I might.

From one point of view, I shouldn’t be affected by their death notices.

But from another point of view I am greatly affected by these emails.

I know that every day, those few words reported by our government in a routine, formulaic manner, hit someone, in some part of country, like a 10-pound sledge hammer blow to the chest.

It takes their breath away, changes their lives forever, confirms that a young, able-bodied friend or a family member is no more.

That knowledge makes this war seem all the more real to me. So does the knowledge that the people I elect are making the decisions to send Americans to war. And the knowledge that when I pay my federal taxes, part of my payment is funding the war.

Whether we think the military action is good or bad, justified or irresponsible, the right or wrong course of action, we’re all in some small way enabling our nation’s military action. Yet until I began receiving the DOD emails, I, like most Americans, didn’t realize that Americans die almost every day fighting wars at our country’s direction.

We only hear about military deaths when something out of the ordinary happens: a plane crash, a suicide bomber, any incident where a number of soldiers or sailors or marines die at the same time.

When one dies, it’s no longer newsworthy on a national basis.

It should be.

It should affect us all.

Every day.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.

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