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911 young officers were commissioned that May morning

Retired Army officer Michael A. Newton writes in this morning’s Washington Times:

Phil graduated from West Point in the class of 2005. Like all civilized people, he and his classmates were horrified by the shock of September 11. The difference for them was that they were in their first year at the academy. They stood together on the Plain in silent midnight vigil as the trumpet mournfully blew and as the shock of events wore off they gained the certitude that they would serve our nation in time of war. At that point of their cadet careers, Phil and his classmates could have chosen to leave. They were the first post-September 11 class to choose to serve, and in an eerie fortuity 911 young officers were commissioned that May morning.

As is true of every other casualty, that e-mail had a face and a personality and a story. Phil was not flashy. He was a quiet young man who generally thought before he spoke. He was not from an aristocratic line. Life did not hand him success because of his family name or wealth. He worked hard to graduate and succeed at the academy while helping his friends along the way. He carried himself with a steadiness and dependability that was admirable. His attributes in life were precisely those that Americans should be entitled to expect of West Pointers who commit themselves to the service of this republic.

In my four trips to Iraq, I have seen much progress, but also much that is dismaying. There are legitimate ways to express dissatisfaction with events on the ground in Iraq, but it is the height of hypocrisy for Congress to complain about rampant factionalism and bureaucratic bungling in Baghdad even as they set the world class standard in Washington. In depriving our troops and their families of the funding they need in order to pander to a political faction, Congress abdicates its solemn obligations.

Hundreds line funeral route of fallen soldier

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Citizens waved American flags and stood in groups, paying their respects to [Army Staff Sergeant Jesse] Williams, 25, who was killed by a sniper in Iraq on April 8. It was the largest tribute to a fallen soldier from Northern California since more than 1,000 Ukiah residents waited until 2 a.m. last June to honor Army Sgt. Jason Buzzard, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

“It’s overwhelming,” said William’s stepmother, Sandra Handley, who wept as an Army honor guard carried his flag-draped coffin from the hearse into Daniels Chapel of the Roses in Santa Rosa. “Our young people who are serving in our armed forces deserve our respect and love because they pay the ultimate price for our country, as Jesse did.”

Hundreds line funeral route to pay respects to Army Staff Sergeant Jesse Williams

Photo caption: Mary St. Clair of Healdsburg wipes away tears as she watches the body of Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams return to Santa Rosa. Her own son recently returned from Iraq safely. Click here for the full article.