Monday, May 28, 2007

Perspective: Lives torn asunder

GENOA, Ill. -- For the loved ones of Brian Donatus Slavenas, memories still stir and shift.

Three years, six months and 25 days ago, insurgents hiding in a date palm grove near the Iraqi city of Fallujah fired two missiles into a Chinook helicopter that Slavenas was co-piloting, killing the 30-year-old Illinois National Guard first lieutenant and 15 others.

Since that day, Slavenas' long-divorced parents no longer speak to each other; his father chokes up at the sound of helicopters; a brother took to heavy drinking; and the dead soldier's closest friend stopped watching the news.

"When you hear what's going on, you think about him," said friend John Rossi, explaining why he sometimes prefers not to hear about Iraq. "It brings you back."

Across America, in tens of thousands of homes scarred by war, friends and family members like those who loved Slavenas are struggling to find an equilibrium, a way to go forward without turning their backs on what they have lost.

Read the rest at the Chicago Tribune