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 According to wikipedia.org, the Iraq War is defined as, “…an invasion of Iraq that led to…the eventual capture of President Saddam Hussein”. The Los Angeles Times described is as, “…two countries with little understanding of each other collided in a long, brutal war that exacted a terrible price from both”. Although the concept of the war has been interpreted in various ways for the past 8 years and 270 days it has transpired, the Iraq War, as a whole, is not a concept that can be simply defined within a daily news article, or “This Week-In Memoriam”s on ABC News. It was not based on a questionably impulsive reaction, nor was it a war carried out in vain. It was a war that entailed 4,500+ dead and 30,000+ wounded Americans who strived to defend the national security of their country, with countless others now living with the emotional, physical, or mental effects of enduring a manhunt within enemy lines and being on the defensive from an active terrorist group, carelessly tormenting its people. Claiming that all of the blood, sweat, and tears that these brave soldiers contributed to the war effort were “brave”, “courageous”, or “determined” would be an understatement. Their endeavors have not only molded and shaped their own characters, but also the future for the military and politics in Iraq.

         A famous author by the name of Jerome P. Crabb once wrote, “Dying is like getting audited by the IRS—something that only happens to other people…until it happens to you.” With every war, every battle, and strife to protect a vital cause, lies death; a factor that is irrevocable, as it is inevitable. The height of the death toll occurred in the year of 2007 recorded at 899 deaths, exceeding the 850 death count in 2004. During 2007, around four letters of condolences were sent out every day. The healing process is not a swift one, as many men and women, who fought in the war left families of husbands, wives, and children behind, lost without direction. Much can be said about Karen Mendoza and her two kids who lost their husband and father, Maj. Ray Mendoza; who was the only one in his battalion to die from stepping on a land mine, as he was leading the front. Mendoza’s objective from the get go, however, was to not allow the grief or sadness accompanying her husband’s death, to dwell on her or her children. In order to preserve her husband’s importance and memory during the war, Mendoza implores both her son and daughter to continue to be inspired by their wrestling team in 1996 rising from the ashes of his humble background. Mendoza’s daughter, Kiana, is now 18 and a freshman in college studying human relations while the other, Aleksandr is 14 entering high school, bearing a similar path that his father took by joining the wrestling team. The Medoza family along with other families endured and continues to endure a similar weight that their fallen loved ones had t carry.

At times, death can be a disheartening fact that can settle in a person’s mind and heart, altering the world around them in sadness and despair, but there is always a light at the tunnel, that some may choose, like the Mendoza family and hopefully, result in an optimistic future.

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