Sunday, September 7, 2008

In honor of those who have fallen

In 2006, The Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, and he has created an amazingly powerful new book from that reporting. When Colorado lost it's first soldier in Iraq, Sheeler began documenting the stories of the soldiers who died, the families they left behind, and the Marines whose task and honor it is to bring the grim news home. In Final Salute: a story of unfinished lives, Sheeler brings the reader along with Marine Major Steve Beck as approaches the front door of homes in Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and South Dakota bearing the news that their son has died.
This is one of the most uncomfortable books I have ever read, and one that is impossible to get through in one sitting. The best you can do is read a few pages, put it down to think, and come back later. There is no analysis here - no political agenda - no defense or denunciation of our presence in Iraq. This is about the families, the friends and the fellow soldiers who are left behind.
This is a painful, horrible, essential book.

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