At dawn a mother gazes not at the sun rising over the High Plains, nor the purplish snows of Pikes Peak. She sits in her study staring at a laptop, because the place on earth she feels closest to her fallen soldier is cyberspace.
Dane was her first-born, the boy who always wanted to follow his dad into the Army. Even after she tried to talk him out of it. Even after — especially after — his nation went to war. He left for Iraq in July 2007. Less than two months later, he was killed by a roadside bomb. He was 19.
This morning his mother, Carla Sizer, logs on to Legacy.com’s “In Remembrance” section. Spc. Dane Balcon, like thousands of other servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, has his own memorial page. There are several obituaries, a musical tribute, 176 photos and a “guest book” with almost 1,200 messages posted by relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, comrades and total strangers.
Carla visits the site first thing every morning, coffee in hand, and last thing at night, in her pajamas. She visits during the day (the site is bookmarked on her iPhone). She leaves a message or reads those posted by others. She calls up a photo of Dane and touches it on the screen with her fingers. At times like these, she says, “I know he’s smiling down. It keeps me going in the right direction.”
The Internet is changing how Americans remember the war dead. This Memorial Day, Carla and tens of thousands of others will turn to such memorial websites to mourn, honor and recall departed members of the military services…. (Source)
May 25, 2009