A Christmas of Too Much Meaning

For families of fallen soldiers, holidays bring little relief
The Associated Press

CARROLLTON – Phyllis Broomfield barely sleeps these days and occasionally skips work, lost in a haze of anguish over the death of her son.

Second Lt. Johnny Craver was 37 when he died two months ago, killed in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated. He was supposed to be home for Christmas.

“I don’t even want to have holidays this year,” Broomfield said. “I don’t know that I can. Every day since October 14, I just wonder how I am going to go on.”

Broomfield’s grief, enhanced by the holiday season, is a too-familiar pain for Lee Price, the director of Fort Hood’s Casualty Assistance Center. At least 59 soldiers from Texas have died in Iraq in 2006, and at least 250 since the war began in March 2003. Nationally, nearly 3,000 soldiers have died in Iraq and more than 350 in Afghanistan.

For families dealing with the loss of a fallen soldier, “the holidays bring out the best and bring out the worst” of emotions, Price said. The warm feelings associated with the season often make people dealing with death and loss feel worse, leading many churches to hold somber Blue Christmas services to help those left behind.


Broomfield has her bad days and her worse days. Her first Christmas since her son’s death will be as wrenching as any.

“Johnny loved Christmas,” she said. “It’s going to be hard because that was his favorite holiday.”

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