I Admit I Wept When I Saw the President Welcoming the Fallen at Dover

President Obama welcomes the Fallen from Afghanistan.

I admit, I wept openly when I saw this picture.

I didn’t realize policy forbidding the media from photographing our Fallen coming home has been in place since President George H.W. Bush.

Even President Bill Clinton did not attend this solemn ceremony. President Clinton did not attend a funeral of a fallen warrior. Neither did President George W. Bush — although President Bush did meet privately with family members of the Fallen. To his credit. And I thank him for that.

President Abraham Lincoln had a home across from a cemetary during the Civil War. At times, he saw 30 fresh graves dug a day.

From The Swamp:

President Obama traveled overnight to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans killed in military service this week, the height of the bloodiest month for the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan.

In an unannounced trip in the middle of the night, the president went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware by Marine helicopter to be present for the arrival of the bodies of the fallen troops.

The solemn visit was the first of its kind for Obama, and comes as he is withdrawing troops from Iraq but contemplating a troop increase in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Obama spoke to sailors and aviators at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, where he promised that he would count the full cost of war before deciding to send more military into harm’s way.

“Obviously it was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day — not only our troops, but their families as well,” Obama said later today, at the White House. “And so Michelle and I are constantly mindful of those sacrifices.

“And obviously the burden that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts,” said Obama, deliberating over the way forward in Afghanistan. “It is something that I think about each and every day.”

The administration this year lifted a longstanding ban on media coverage of the return of fallen service members. Obama was accompanied by a small pool of White House reporters who were on duty overnight.

Of course this visit was appropriate. I found it incredibly moving just seeing the President of the United States saluting while one of our fallen hero’s is brought home to rest.

No, President GWB did not do this. Neither did Bill Clinton, unless someone can recall otherwise.

We waited a long time to see this.

Regardless of his or her policies, the President of the United States stands as a symbol.  He represents the United States of America.  And it is entirely appropriate that he stand at attention, periodically, when our Fallen are brought home.

Our Fallen deserve this honor.

I hope he does it again. He needs to keep in touch with the fact that each casualty is a real fallen human being, with a real family. George W. Bush may have met with families privately — and I respect him for that — but some surrounding him in his administration were often glib when asked about the fallen soldiers.

The president needs to do this to keep in touch. And we need to see it happen.

Two Children Also Died In Baquba Sunday…

Easter Sunday Green Zone bombings, Baghdad, Iraq

Easter Sunday was just another violent day in Iraq, with four American soldiers and 58 Iraqis killed today in violence around the country. The worst was in the Green Zone, above. The four American dead pushes the United States total to 4,000 officially reported.The grim email announcements from various news sources are arriving now.

According to The New York Times:

As many as 20 mortar shells were fired Sunday at the heavily fortified Green Zone, one of the fiercest and most sustained attacks on the area in the last year.

The shelling sent thick plumes of dark gray smoke over central Baghdad and ignited a spectacular fire on the banks of the Tigris River. It ushered in a day of violence that claimed the lives of four American soldiers and at least 58 lraqis around the country.

American military officials said the soldiers were killed by a homemade bomb about 10 p.m. as they patrolled southern Baghdad in a vehicle, pushing the number of American service members killed in Iraq closer to 4,000. Another soldier was wounded in the attack.

This in spite of repeated claims by the Bush Administration that the increase in troop levels has reduced violence across the country.

The Soldier’s names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

MSNBC provides more analysis on the numbers:

Last year, the U.S. military deaths spiked along with the Pentagon’s “surge” — the arrival of more than 30,000 extra troops trying to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas. The mission was generally considered a success, but the cost was evident as soldiers pushed into Sunni insurgent strongholds and challenged Shiite militias.

Military deaths rose above 100 for three consecutive months for the first time during the war: April 2007, 104; May, 126 and June at 101.

The death toll has seesawed since, with 2007 ending as the deadliest year for American troops at 901 deaths. That was 51 more deaths than 2004, the second deadliest year for U.S. soldiers.

Our wounded far outnumber our dead:

But a hallmark of the Iraq war is the high wounded-to-killed ratio, partly because of advances in battlefield medicine, enhanced protective gear worn by soldiers and reinforced armored vehicles.

There have been about 15 soldiers wounded for every fatality in Iraq, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.

The saddest note comes at the end of the NYTimes story:

Two children in Baquba, a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, also died Sunday. They were playing in a street when a homemade bomb hidden under some garbage detonated, killing them instantly. When the authorities reached the scene, the security official said, all they found were pieces of the children’s bodies.

Happy Easter.