The Man Behind The 4,000th Number

As I watched the talking heads in the last week try to justify and rationalize that horrifying milestone of 4,000 casualties in Iraq and Dana Perino trying to convince us that Bush truly grieves for each loss, the anonymity of it all started to niggle at me. Four thousand is such an antiseptic number that marks how many lost loves, and children who will miss their mommy or daddy's guidance and love? How many lost hugs and kisses? How many games of basketball with buddies from back in the day? How many future plans, both grandiose and small, have vanished? These men and women sacrificed for some amoral ideological notions of profit and hegemony all had lives that have been cut needlessly short and deprived their loved ones of their companionship forever. My buddy, Bob Geiger tried to put a face and a life behind that milestone number.

The Agonist (cross posted at HuffPo):
We know that 96 percent of the Americans killed in Iraq have died since Bush boasted that our mission was accomplished and we know with sickening assurance that we have hit the hideous milestone of 4,000 of our own dead in the Bush administration's war of choice.

We arrived at that number on Sunday and we've seen it replayed in all its sterility throughout the media this entire week.

And to be sure the numbers of dead and wounded while astounding in generalities have sadly begun over the last five years to lose their specificity, to render us unable to grasp the individual stories of lives lost for no reason and so many families left with interminable grief.

But I want to tell you about number 4,000, because he has a name and he had a wonderful life to come.

His name is Christopher M. Hake. He was a U.S. Army Staff Sargent. More importantly, he was a husband to wife Kelli and a father to 1-year-old son, Gage.
He was from Enid, Oklahoma -- and he was 26 years old.

We can't say for sure that Hake was number 4,000 of our Iraq dead because Pvt. George Delgado, 21, of Palmdale, Calif., Pfc. Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, of Festus, Mo. and Spc. Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, of Mission, Texas all died in a horrible blast earlier this week when, according to the Defense Department, "their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive" in Baghdad.

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But as a Veteran myself, I can tell you that these men were brothers until the end and that, because more early news and details are available on Chris Hake than his buddies, we can tell his story and hope all Americans understand the identical preciousness of every life we have needlessly lost in Iraq.


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