Mourning in America

November 30, 2003

Funerals are held nearly daily across the country for the military personnel who have died in Iraq since the invasion of that country March 19 -- 434 as of Wednesday. On average, about two American service members killed in Iraq have been arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware every day since the war began, but the media are kept away. The only glimpse Americans have on their own soil of the grim side of the Iraq war is from news photographs of individual military funerals, at scattered sites around the country.

President Bush has not attended any of the funerals and has not been present when the remains of the war dead arrive at Dover, choosing to pay his respects instead to grieving families at a handful of military installations. On Monday, at Fort Carson, Colo., he paid condolences privately to 98 relatives of 26 soldiers killed in Iraq. Fort Carson has deployed 16,000 troops there.

Privacy may underscore the solemnity of grief for the dead, but it also obscures attention to the human cost of the war. The photographs on this page are from two days last week, including the day the president was at Fort Carson; they represent about 1 percent of the funerals for those Americans killed in Iraq.

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