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Comments by YACCS
Monday, January 15, 2007

What can I do?


Howard Alexander

Add worried dad to grim Iraq toll

After watching President Bush address the nation on Wednesday night, Howard Alexander went to bed repeating a question.

"What can I do?" Alexander kept asking.

His was the question of an anguished 53-year-old Brooklyn father whose son was being held nearly a year beyond his enlistment as he serves a second tour in Iraq.

"What can I do? ..."

That tour was itself being extended because the replacement unit had not had adequate stateside time since its own last combat hitch. Bush had now announced he was deploying more troops of an overextended Army.

"What can I do? ..."

He had already written countless letters and made endless calls to politicians and military officials in an effort to get his son home.

"What can I do? ..."

No answer came. Alexander suffered seemingly minor physical distress during the night, but told his wife he was all right and he rolled over. He never woke again.

The autopsy found no evidence of heart trouble or an aneurysm. The best medical guess was his death resulted from a seizure disorder he had periodically experienced.

Such seizures can be triggered and intensified by the biochemical changes that accompany stress. Nobody is saying Bush gave Alexander the condition. The possibility remains that a presidential address preceded by months of high anxiety translated into a blast of seizure-inducing norepinephrine, corticosteroids and other chemicals.

You cannot help but wonder if perhaps this was the first death by speech.

"It wasn't Bush," his sister Diane Mooney charitably allows. "But he didn't help."

Alexander's mother voices the stronger view that what ultimately killed her only son was the stress of having his boy serve two tours in Iraq, topped by watching the commander in chief announce he was dispatching more troops.

"I believe that caused his death," 82-year-old Mary Alexander said Friday night. "I believe in my heart and soul that's what put Howard where he is today. He couldn't take it."

posted by Steve @ 2:40:00 AM

2:40:00 AM

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