Paying our last respects

October 26, 2005

How many of us knew Bernard L. Ceo, Samuel M. Boswell, Brian R. Conner, Kendall K. Frederick and Norman W. Anderson III? We know of them now because they have joined the thousands of servicemen and women killed in the line of duty. Their place of death was Iraq in the first war of the 21st century. They are among some 2,000 United States service members who have died in this war. Three Army National Guardsmen, an Army reservist and a Marine, they were victims of roadside bombs, suicide attackers and accidents this month, the most recent Maryland casualties. But like many who came before them, they were sons and brothers and fathers first, then soldiers.

These young men should be remembered not for how they died or solely because of the uniform they wore - though, from all accounts, they wore it admirably. They should be remembered for the lives they led, in and out of uniform.

Bernard Ceo, 23, of Baltimore, eagerly took on the responsibility of helping raise his girlfriend's two small children; they were family. Firefighter Brian Conner, a 36-year-old single parent from Baltimore, was raising his three girls. Ever the optimist, Sammy Boswell, 20, of Elkridge, was planning a big birthday bash for his August homecoming. Newlywed Norman Anderson, 21, of Parkton, had always wanted to be in the military; he wore his Marine best on his wedding day. During a recent trip home, 21-year-old Kendall Frederick, a realist about the war, let his family in Randallstownknow how much he loved them.

It's how you live your life. That's what the Rev. Dennis Diehl said in eulogizing Sammy Boswell. No matter how long you live, he told the church crowd, it's how you live your life that matters.

Five Maryland soldiers who lived fully and died too young. They have been eulogized, saluted by their comrades, buried by their parents, honored on the floor of the U.S. Senate for how they lived their lives, how they died. Their families require our attention. They have sacrificed their own in the country's cause, and that is the heart of the matter.

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