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A time to remember

May 23, 2009
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

- Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae,

MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Field was written by a doctor in the Canadian Army in 1915 to mark the death of a 22-year-old comrade-in-arms.

Today, white crosses still serve as a reminder of those who died in service to their county.

And poppies come into prominence again as more American troops gear up for battle in the expanding war in Afghanistan even as troops in Iraq prepare to come home.

As we begin our three-day weekends, plan our barbecues, trips to the beach and visits with friends and family, let us all pause, if only for a moment, to remember those who will not be coming home from fields, deserts and mountains afar.

Our war dead in Afghanistan and Iraq number 4,962 today.

Among them:

- 1st Lt. Roslyn L. Schulte, 25, of St. Louis, Mo., who died May 20 near Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device.

- Staff Sgt. Esau I. De la Pena-Hernandez, 25, of La Puente, Calif., and Sgt. Carlie M. Lee, III, 23, of Birmingham, Ala. They died May 15 at Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan of wounds suffered when their patrol was attacked by enemy forces using small-arms fire in Chak, Afghanistan.

- Spc. David A. Schaefer Jr., 27, of Belleville, Ill., who died May 16 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit.

- Cpl. Ryan C. McGhee, 21, of Fredericksburg, Va., who died May 13 from wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces while conducting combat operations in Central Iraq.

- Maj. Steven Hutchison, 60, of Scottsdale, Ariz., who died May 10, in Basrah of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Al Farr, Iraq.

- Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Texas; Staff Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J.; Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo.; and Pfc. Michael E. Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md. They died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad, of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

- Sgt. Lukasz D. Saczek, 23, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., who died May 10 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

- Spc. Omar M. Albrak, 21, of Chicago, who died May 9, in Baghdad, of injuries sustained during a motor vehicle accident.

- Commander Charles K. Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., who died May 11 from injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident at Camp Liberty, Iraq.

- Pvt. Justin P. Hartford, 21, of Elmira, N.Y., who died May 8 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

- Staff Sgt. Randy S. Agno, 29, of Pearl City, Hawaii, who died May 8 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, of wounds sustained April 27 from a non-combat related incident at Forward Operating Base Olsen in Samarra, Iraq.

- Spc. Shawn D. Sykes, 28, of Portsmouth, Va., who died May 7 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered from an accident that occurred May 5 at Combat Outpost Crazy Horse, Iraq.

- Spc. Jeremiah P. McCleery, 24, of Portola, Calif., and Spc. Jake R. Velloza, 22, of Inverness, Calif. They died from wounds sustained after they were shot by enemy forces in Mosul, Iraq on May 2.

- Sgt. James D. Pirtle, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Spec. Ryan C. King, 22, of Dallas, Ga.; and Staff Sgt. William D. Vile, 27, of Philadelphia, Pa. They died May 1 near the village of Nishagam, in Konar Province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked their unit using direct fire.

- Sgt. Christopher D. Loza, 24, of Abilene, Texas, who died April 10 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., of a non-combat related illness after becoming ill March 17 in Radwaniyah, Iraq.

- Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler J. Trahan, 22, of East Freetown, Mass., who died on April 30 while conducting combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq.

- Sgt. James R. McIlvaine, 26, of Olney, Md., and Staff Sgt. Mark A. Wojciechowski, 25, of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Marines died April 30 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

If the list seems lengthy, these are the men and woman whose deaths have been announced this month. It's longer by one than last year's litany. The oldest was 60. Most, again, were in their early 20s.

Salute them - the sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, spouses and parents - who will not be coming home.

Thank them - the fallen and all who have gone before them - for the sacrifices made.

And remember them - the families and friends left behind to mourn the empty place at the barbecue, the vacant seat at the holiday table.

In the Cape, a Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery, 1630 S.W. Pine Island Rd.

The event will include a 21-gun salute and renditions of Taps, "God Bless America" and the national anthem.

Speakers will include Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and Mayor Jim Burch.

The torch is ours to hold high. May we ever keep the faith.

- Breeze editorial



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