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Sat Dec 31, 2011 at 05:18 PM PST

IGTNT: We Remember Them

by twilight falling

Tonight, we light a candle of memory against the darkness of grief and loss. We remember.

This retrospective is a compilation of 2011's "I Got the News Today" diaries, tributes to American service members who died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When you click on the links, you'll find their stories--the details that their teachers and friends remember, the last phone calls home to parents, their MySpace messages to loved ones. These are not numbers or abstractions. They were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, parents, children, friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters in arms. Their lives mattered.

If you are new to the series, please click on a date and read about a few of these lives. If you have been with us this year, please know how much your presence, witnessing and condolences mean. To the team--a special THANK YOU for your constant and compassionate efforts. To the families and friends who may read this--we have not forgotten your loved one.

As is our tradition, we have chosen "We Remember Them," by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer, to help us reflect on these losses. Thank you for being here tonight to remember.

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Tonight, we honor the memory of a combat medic who perished in service to his country in Afghanistan: Spc. Nicholas P. Bernier. We also hold in our thoughts and our hearts his families and friends, who are grieving the loss of their loved one.

The Jewish people use an expression to refer to good people who have passed on: may his/her memory be a blessing. Although different people believe different things about what, if anything, happens after death, "may his/her memory be a blessing" reflects a more universal sentiment: that the memories of those who have gone can still positively affect and influence those who remain. It is a sentiment of hope and an affirmation of life in the midst of the pain and grief that accompany a profound loss.

In that spirit--either secular or religious, as you prefer--let us remember together this brave, compassionate man, whose only aspiration was to serve his country. May his memory be a blessing, as his life was.

Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.
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Tonight, we light a candle of memory against the darkness of grief and loss. We remember.

This retrospective, the first of two, is a compilation of 2010's "I Got the News Today" diaries, tributes to American service members who died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When you click on the links, you'll find their stories--the details that their teachers and friends remember, the last phone calls home to parents, their MySpace messages to loved ones. These are not numbers or abstractions. They were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, parents, children, friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters in arms. Their lives mattered.

If you are new to the series, please click on a date and read about a few of these lives. If you have been with us this year, please know how much your presence, witnessing and condolences mean. To the team--a special THANK YOU for your constant and compassionate efforts. To the families and friends who may read this--we have not forgotten your loved one.

As in other years, we have chosen "We Remember Them," by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer, to help us reflect on these losses. Thank you for being here tonight to remember.

Continue Reading

Tonight, we honor the memory of another soldier who perished in service to his country in Afghanistan: PFC Conrado D. Javier Jr. We also hold in our thoughts and our hearts his families and friends, who are grieving the loss of their loved one.

The Jewish people use an expression to refer to good people who have passed on: may his/her memory be a blessing. Although different people believe different things about what, if anything, happens after death, "may his/her memory be a blessing" reflects a more universal sentiment: that the memories of those who have gone can still positively affect and influence those who remain. It is a sentiment of hope and an affirmation of life in the midst of the pain and grief that accompany a profound loss.

In that spirit--either secular or religious, as you prefer--let us remember together this brave, compassionate man, whose only aspiration was to serve his country. May his memory be a blessing, as his life was.

Continue Reading

Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 04:12 PM PDT

IGTNT: All This is Ended

by twilight falling

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movements, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

~ Rupert Brook (1887- 1915)

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Tonight, we light a candle of memory against the darkness of grief and loss. We remember.

This retrospective, the second of two, is a compilation of 2009's "I Got the News Today" diaries, tributes to American service members who died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When you click on the links, you'll find their stories--the details that their teachers and friends remember, the last phone calls home to parents, their MySpace messages to loved ones. These are not numbers or abstractions. They were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, parents, children, friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters in arms. Their lives mattered.

If you are new to the series, please click on a date and read about a few of these lives. If you have been with us this year, please know how much your presence, witnessing and condolences mean. To the team--a special thank you for your constant and compassionate efforts. To the families and friends who may read this--we have not forgotten your loved one.

As in other years, we have chosen "We Remember Them," by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer, to help us reflect on these losses. Thank you for being here tonight to remember.

Continue Reading

Despite the legendary battle cry, there is never a good day to die. There are especially bad days to die, however: those days that are the most meaningful and special to you, because any day that comes with the news that your loved one has perished is forevermore a horrible day.

This year, two US soldiers—Staff Sgt. David H. Gutierrez and Spc. Jason M. Johnston—died in service to their country on or around the Christmas holiday that their families used to celebrate. It is now a day of mourning for them, and for all of us for whom these two men gave their lives to serve.

Please follow me over the jump to remember these two exceptional men.

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Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:00 PM PDT

IGTNT: The Broken Branches

by twilight falling

On the day when Americans commemorate their country’s independence—an independence made possible and sustained by generations of Americans who were willing to give everything they had in service to their country—two US soldiers and one US Marine made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country: PFC Justin Casillas, PFC Aaron Fairbairn, and Lance Corporal Charles Seth Sharp.

All three were too young to drink legally. Yet as young as they were, they shared in common a single-minded determination to serve, a tremendous amount of courage, and unflinching loyalty. They deserve our deepest gratitude for their willingness to give everything they had in service to their country.

This diary is a tribute to Justin, Aaron, and Seth. It is in their memory and in their honor.

And yet my heart keeps bleeding for the families, friends, and loved ones for whom July 4 will never again be a day to celebrate—the ones who lost kids who weren’t old enough to drink legally, who had so much potential, who had barely started tasting all the sweetness and joy of life...now "broken branches" in the beautiful, haunting words of the poet Manuchehr Aatashi.

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Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 04:47 PM PST

IGTNT: A Belated Farewell

by twilight falling

The IGTNT team works very hard to identify, profile, and pay tribute to every American soldier, sailor, Marine, airman, and Guardsman who falls as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On rare occasion, however, a report from the Department of Defense comes out late and may be inadvertently missed. Such is the case for the soldier we remember today, Spc. Alexander Rosa Jr. Spc. Rosa fell in Iraq in May, 2007. We deeply regret having missed the report of his passing and are very grateful to DKos members moondance and llbear for bringing Spc. Rosa to our attention.

Although we are remembering Spc. Rosa later than we would have chosen, our respect and gratitude to him and his family are undiminished. We are especially thankful to have the opportunity to pay tribute to this fine man today. Please join us as we remember Alex Rosa Jr.

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Newspapers and magazines are full of lists of the year's departed celebrities, their obituaries packed with details about their on-screen appearances, love affairs and marriages, cover photos and awards.

This is not that list.

"We Remember Them" is a compilation of 2008's "I Got the News Today" diaries, tributes to American service members who died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When you click on the links, you'll find their stories--the details that their teachers and friends remember, the last phone calls home to parents, their MySpace messages to loved ones. These are not numbers or abstractions. They were here. Their lives mattered.

If you are new to the series, please click on a date and read about a few of these lives. If you have been with us this year, please know how much your presence, witnessing and condolences mean. To the team--a special thank you for your constant and compassionate efforts.

As we did last year, we have chosen "We Remember Them," by Rabbis Sylvan Kamens and Jack Riemer, to help us reflect on these losses. Thank you for being here tonight to remember.

Continue Reading

At a time when the families of a number of military members stationed at Fort Campbell, Tennessee, are celebrating the safe return of their loved ones, one family is mourning the loss of theirs. Sgt. Scott J. Metcalf perished on Oct. 29, 2008 while serving his country in Iraq, leaving behind his wife, his daughter, his mother, and the Army and country he loved.

It is very hard to find words that can do justice to a man who decided that serving his country was his vocation, and who never regretted that decision, even in the face of repeated and prolonged deployments in war zones and long periods of time away from his family. Sgt. Metcalf spent 18 years in the Army, and nothing shook his belief that it was the right thing for him to do. He kept the faith with his beliefs and with his country and with his loved ones. And for that, we honor him in the best way we can: by remembering him.

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Please also visit JeNoCo’s diary, IGTNT: Band of Brothers. Thanks to all who bear witness with us so faithfully!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time...

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "A Psalm of Life"

Six more soldiers and Marines have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of them probably didn’t know each other, and yet they were all there for the same reason: to make a difference for their families, their friends, and their country. And in so doing, they left behind them footprints that will not soon fade.

Let us remember together these six great men: Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Strickland, Chief Warrant Officer Robert C. Hammett, Major Dwayne M. Kelley, Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, Capt. Philip J. Dykeman, and Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme.

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