Letter From the Editor

On Oct. 27, 2006, I became an American.  

At the swearing-in ceremony in Abingdon, VA, Judge Michael F. Urbanski challenged     
the group of 15 new citizens before him to make a difference in our communities.  He
urged us not to become complacent and to always remember that we have an
“obligation that accompanies the honor of becoming an American.”

It reminded me of the men and women in the armed forces who selflessly serve day-in
and day-out.  I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I considered the thousands of military
members who were in faraway lands on that day instead of sharing a special moment
with their families.

My thoughts were particularly with those serving in the current conflict in the Middle
East.  Would I be an American worthy of their sacrifice?  I reflected on Eleanor
Roosevelt’s wartime prayer, shared with me by a Vietnam veteran friend of mine:

"Dear Lord,
Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember that somewhere,
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?”

The book,
Faces of Freedom: Profiles of America’s Fallen Heroes in Iraq and  
Afghanistan, is the way in which I have chosen to say “thank you” to those who serve.  
And through this project, I have seen many Americans who have not forgotten their
obligations as sons and daughters of this great land.  
Faces of Freedom was made
possible by dozens of volunteer writers, editors and artists.

In these pages you will read about some of the nation’s fallen heroes.  Some were
great warriors.  Some served their countries quietly and dutifully.  All loved America.

On Dec. 14, 2005, President George W. Bush addressed the nation about the ongoing
Global War on Terror.  He talked about how the power of freedom will overcome
tyranny.  “We can be confident because we have on our side the greatest force for
freedom in human history: the men and women of the United States Armed Forces,” he

The president pointed to Marine 2nd Lt. Ryan McGlothlin, from southwest Virginia, as
an example:

“Ryan was a bright young man who had everything going for him and he always wanted
to serve our nation. He was a valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from
William & Mary with near-perfect grade averages, and he was on a full scholarship at
Stanford, where he was working toward a doctorate in chemistry.”

The president went on to explain that Ryan was killed while fighting along the Syrian
border in Iraq in November of 2005.

Not every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman will be recognized in a
speech by the president.  In fact, many will barely get a mention in their local
newspapers.  The primary purpose of this book is to raise money to benefit veterans,
through Fisher House and Wounded Warrior Project, and to heighten awareness about
the sacrifice and selflessness of our troops.  These men and women are not just
numbers.  They were our friends and neighbors, and the loved ones of our fellow
Americans.  While only 52 fallen heroes are featured here, Faces of Freedom is a
tribute to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we — and our future
generations — may live in peace, security and freedom.  

— Rebecca Pepin