Soldiers are supposed to die in gruesome fashion at war — not in the safety of their own home.
That is what made Fort Hood so horrific for Americans. That is why the president showed up for the memorial service and television carried it live.
And yet, I remember sitting on a hard wooden bench, listening to another sergeant major do a roll call, perhaps the most poignant part of a military ceremony. At Fort Hood, the names of the dead were only called once, perhaps because there were so many to call. But in Baghdad, the names sounded three times. And there was silence each time.
It was so hot on that August day that my tears instantly dried on my cheeks. I blessed Iraq for not giving me away.
There are those who have died in horrific fashion in Iraq and Afghanistan whose names will never be called out live on television. The president will not attend their ceremonies. The entire nation will not mourn for them.
But some of their names will sound over and over again in my head today — on Veteran’s Day.
On this day, I choose the words of Benjamin Franklin:
“Never has there been a good war or a bad peace.”