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Speaking out

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Family members of the soldiers who have died in Iraq rarely have spoken to the media throngs outside the chapel at Fort Carson, where memorial services are held.

However, following her son's Nov. 19 service, Elaine Johnson stopped to direct sharp words at President George W. Bush, who has not attended any services for slain soldiers, nor sent any representatives from his administration.

Johnson, a strong woman, said her son was certainly valuable to the president as long as he was fighting a war, but that he was no good to him dead. She also noted that in the days before she buried her son, Spc. Darius Jennings, in Cope, S.C., Bush had been in that state, touring a BMW plant. Jennings was one of four Fort Carson soldiers who died after their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down by a missile on Nov. 2.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who is running on the Democratic ticket for president, attended the memorial service at Fort Carson and delivered the eulogy for Jennings.

After Johnson's public criticism over the president's absence at memorial soldiers, the White House announced that Bush planned to visit the Mountain Post. This Monday, Nov. 24, amid much media fanfare, the president arrived on base, where he ate lunch with soldiers, met with family members of the dead and defended the United States' presence in Iraq. "Our resolve will not be shaken," he said.

  • Speaking out

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