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My brother called me with sad news yesterday afternoon. A dear friend of his died this weekend. Staff Sergeant Eugene Alex was shot in Iraq and died in a military hospital in Germany over the weekend. Eugene was 32 and left behind a wife and 3 children. Eugene should have been back in the U.S. more than a month ago. As a result of the troop buildup in Iraq, he was still there.

Now I understand that soldiers know and accept the risks when they join the military. My father was a career Air Force officer. My brother was in the Army (where he met Eugene) until very shortly before the Iraq stop loss orders began, preventing soldiers from leaving when enlistments were over. B is now a reservist in the Ohio National Guard. My husband was in the Navy and is still in the Reserves. I understand the risk they take. This is not a post about our president or misguided U.S. foreign policy. As much as I disagree with our president, soldiers know that their lives are subject to the whims of politicians and presidents. They know that. And I understand it too. But I must admit that some small part of me has felt guilty for the relief I've felt because my brother and husband have been kept out of harm's way. The part of me that admires the sacrifices made by soldiers past. The part of me that loves to fly the flag. The part of me that is so proud of my father, my brother, and my husband for their military service. I feel guilty when I hear about men and women like Eugene who loved their country, loved their jobs as soldiers and died, while my loved ones are safe....

First Lady Laura Bush is speaking at a hotel about 1/2 a block from my office this afternoon at a fundraiser for Republican Congresswoman, Thelma Drake. It was notable to me because of the protestors I passed on my way to work this morning. One protestor in particular caught my eye. A woman stood with a handwritten sign that read "2,452 Americans dead. Not one more." All I could think was that she was wrong. The number should be 2,453.

I'm not going to feel guilty anymore.



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