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Casualties hit home

The news of American servicemen losing their lives hit closer to home last week. A Marine from Charlotte, Lance Cpl. Gregory C. Howman, 28, and another from Moresboro in Cleveland County, Cpl. Christopher S. Ebert, 21, were both killed in Iraq. The American hostage beheaded Tuesday is believed to be a UNC-Charlotte graduate, Jack Hensley, whose family lives in Georgia. His brother, Ty Hensley, lives in Tega, Cay, S.C.
So far, Lincoln County has not received any reports of casualties, though we do have a National Guard unit in Iraq. Our hopes and prayers are with C Battery as they continue a mission that began almost a year ago.
According to recent published reports, 1,027 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003. Of those, 777 died as a result of hostile action and 250 died of non-combat causes.
Tragically, these reports appear to be on the increase instead of tapering off. So far there is not end in sight for this war, which many thought would end after American forces overthrew Saddam Hussein. Last week published reports cited a National Intelligence Estimate prepared for the president in July which includes the possibility of developments that would lead to an extended civil war. We hope and pray that doesn’t happen.
We have been assured by the Bush administration that Iraq is moving in the right direction with an interim government, a developing security force and upcoming elections. But if this is the correct course it is costing us dearly.
The arguments for and against our handling of the war on terrorism can be found daily in media reports, especially in the coverage of the presidential campaigns. In fact, many political observers say this election has everything to do with the war in Iraq, and that record numbers of voters have registered.
It’s certainly an issue important to Lincoln County, not only because we have a guard unit in Iraq, but because we have so many dedicated veterans who feel strongly about our national defense and our military.
We should listen to this discourse and weigh the stance of President George Bush and Sen. John Kerry as we prepare for the November elections. We owe that much to our service men and women, many of whom are also our neighbors.

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