E-mails to families form shrines to fallen U.S. soldiers

Military families cope with loss
It happens every time a U.S. soldier or marine dies in Iraq. Internet connections are shut down. Commanders don’t want word of the death to reach the soldier’s family before military officials can personally deliver the news.

Once the knock at the family door comes between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., the electronic blockade back in Iraq is lifted and a torrent of e-mails flows from the battlefield to the dead soldier’s family in America.

The practice of military commanders sending personal letters to the families of fallen troops dates at least to the Civil War. But in an era when deployed soldiers can maintain MySpace pages, families have immediate access to a digital community of people offering condolences, stories and even glimpses into a loved one’s final hours.


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