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Iraq: How much longer?

In Maine, we've buried 31 soldiers from the war in Iraq.

And I just got word that the brother of a good friend of mine from grad school was badly injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad over the weekend. Army Specialist Patrick Hanley was about two weeks from heading home at the end of a year-long tour of duty, to see his wife (they've been married about a year, and she told the Associated Press two weeks ago that she is so worried about him that she can't sleep and is losing hair).

My friend, Patrick's sister Cecelia, reports that he has lost his left arm from the shoulder down, and part of his skull. He's heavily sedated in a DC-area military hospital.

Two soldiers riding in his vehicle were killed by the blast. UPDATE: Here are their names, from the US Defense Dept.: Spc. Durrell L. Bennett, 22, of Spanaway, Wash., and Pfc. Patrick J. Miller, 23, of New Port Richey, Fla.

This tragedy has brought home to me something I've thought and felt quite strongly in the past, but never more powerfully than now: This has to end. Period.

At some point, it will end - of that we can be sure. So someone will have the dubious distinction of being the last American servicemember killed in Iraq. What will we, as Americans, say to that person's family? If you were faced with them, what would you say?

I would say this: Not one more.

Patrick, and Cecelia, and all the Hanleys: My thoughts are with you.

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