War Loses Us

Rick Crocker, 1966-2005

"Kids are kids," she said. "And it's probably good they're that way. They get on with other things. But I'm different now. You know, what's going on over there, it doesn't mean anything until it hits your heart."

* * *

My daughter's middle school graduation took place last week, and it was nothing but joy, smiles and handshakes. Gretchen Vizzi was there to hug the kids she'd once taught and wish them good luck. There were the usual speeches about looking ahead, about the courage to face life's challenges, and looking at them—the girls in makeup and dresses, each boy in what's likely his first suit—you can see the beginnings of men and women.

When they graduate the next time, they'll be 18, eligible to enter the armed forces in 2009, the year Dick Cheney claimed the United States would be out of Iraq because the insurgency is "in its last throes."

The next day, Gen. John Abizaid, who heads the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he believes "there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago," adding, "In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it's about the same as it was" six months ago.

That same day, the story broke that the Pentagon was using a direct marketer to compile an extensive database on American teenagers and college students—including GPAs and ethnicity—the military will target as enlistees.

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