FORTY-ONE SOLDIERS from Virginia, Maryland and the District, more than enough to fill an Army platoon, have died in Iraq over the past 18 months. They came from Northwest Washington, from Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax and Bowie. They came from small towns, too -- from Leonardtown and Rawlings in Maryland, from Troutville and Clifton in Virginia. They died singly and in groups. They died under enemy fire and in senseless accidents. Two were women, a dozen were officers and, it bears repeating, all perished serving their country.
Any death at war brings a diffuse grief to a community and leaves another, more private tier of casualties in its wake -- friends, relatives and other loved ones seared by the terrible trauma of loss. "In my quiet time, I think about him a lot," Joseph Ford, a Vietnam veteran whose 21-year-old son, Spec. Jason C. Ford of Bowie, was killed in March, told The Post's Avis Thomas-Lester. "I find myself, sometimes, when the phone rings, thinking it is him. Then I remember."
It is hard sometimes to remember the casualties of a war whose soldiers, all volunteers, went off to battle with so little complaint and whose dead, in flag-draped coffins, are borne home in the absence of cameras or photographers to record their airport arrivals. Still, these dead are our own. So stop a moment and remember a few of them. Remember the youngest of the dead from this area, 18-year-old Pfc. Leslie D. Jackson, the star of her high school class in Richmond, who loved poetry and mailed her mother a camouflage-covered Bible from boot camp inscribed: "To: My Mommy. From: Your Lil Soldier. Trying to make the best of life." Remember the oldest of the dead from here, 45-year-old Command Sgt. Maj. Cornell W. Gilmore of Stafford, the highest-ranking enlisted man in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps, an exuberant, broad-shouldered pianist, drummer, bass player and gospel singer who adored cookies, baseball and his family, spoke in exclamation points and, as reported by The Post's Sue Anne Pressley, planned to be a Wal-Mart greeter once he retired. And remember 1st Lt. Timothy E. Price of Midlothian, Va., 25, who died earlier this month on his second tour of Iraq with the 709th Military Police Battalion.
"We were blessed to have him for a son, and we are crushed to have lost him," Lt. Price's father, John, said in a written statement. "I can't begin to list all the plans that we had made that will never come to fruition."