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A 21-year-old Louisiana soldier was killed in Iraq last week. He is the 54th service man from Louisiana who has died since the combat began in March 2003. And you would have a hard time reading about this young man’s death. It was buried in the back pages of his hometown newspaper.

Have we become so numbed by the deaths of these young men that we make so little effort to even acknowledge their loss?

The young solider in question, Lance Corporal Derrick J. Cothran was a graduate of John Curtis Christian High School in New Orleans. He is the second Curtis graduate to be killed in Iraq. The first was a young sergeant named Huey Fassbender who was killed last year. The sergeant was a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard 256th Infantry Brigade. That’s the same unit I belonged to back during the Vietnam War.

We’ve lost too many of these young men. And you know what? The State could do much more in honoring these heroic soldiers. And here’s an idea to consider.

Whenever a Louisiana soldier is killed while serving his country, Governor Blanco should issue an order for the flags flown at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge to be lowered to half-staff. The flags flying above the Capitol should remain lowered for 72 hours after each death. What should become a tradition and even put into law is we create a public pause. And however brief, we should send messages to relatives of those killed in action that the value of their loved one will not be lost in the crowd of our daily lives.

We’re talking about the Governor acknowledging that the soldier lost – someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s uncle – is all part of the healing process in some small way. This is a gesture of appreciation for the type of public service we all should view with utmost admiration.

The cost of such public display is negligible, although that should not make any difference. There has to be someone sitting around the Capitol who can take the time to lower and raise these flags whenever a young Louisiana soldier is lost. It’s a busy time around the Capitol right now; the Governor, Legislators, and a cross section of lobbyists and average citizens are at the Capitol everyday. Hopefully, someone will take a moment to pause and send this idea up the chain of command. It’s an important salute that needs to be undertaken. So Governor, give the order.

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