Belated birthday wishes

The current president of the United States was born 60 years ago last week, on July 6 at 7:26 a.m. EDT in New Haven, Conn. For those with an astrological cast of mind, the president has the sun in Cancer, Leo rising and the moon in Libra. posts the following horoscope for people born on July 6: “It’s time for a new Moon—and with it, the chance for a whole new beginning. This time out, the Sun and Moon will connect in gentle, emotional Cancer, giving you the chance to welcome someone new into your circle of loved ones. Perhaps you know someone who’s making big life plans or getting ready to welcome a child. One way or another, your home or family will expand in nothing but the most wonderful of ways—and your heart will too!”

All well and good.

But, over the past three years, 151 young Americans have died at war in July, the month of the president’s birth: 56 died in July 2005, 57 died in July 2004, and 48 died in July 2003. It remains to be seen how many will die this July, but an average of one died each day as of the day the president was celebrating his birthday. Whatever the total for the month, “a whole new beginning” of the kind promised by the president’s horoscope will not be in the cards for them—not in the cards, nor in the stars.

In 2004, on the day of the president’s birth, the following U.S. Marines gave their lives in Iraq: Pfc. Rodricka A. Youmans of Allendale, S.C.; Cpl. Jeffrey D. Lawrence of Tucson, Ariz.; Lance Cpl. Justin Hunt of Riverside, Calif.; and Lance Cpl. Scott Dougherty of Bradenton, Fla. The first three were 22 years old when they died. Dougherty was only 20.

They were only a few years out of high school when they died. They will not know the birthdays the president has known, will not know 30, will not know 40 and will not be allowed the time for change and growth the president knew, nor will they have the time to forge their own characters, to live and learn from their mistakes. Or not learn, if that would have been their destiny. There are sunsets—thousands of them—that were theirs to be seen, now denied.

Some deaths are inevitable, but the sunsets denied these fallen soldiers were optional, though the option was not theirs. That option was held by a man who calls himself “the decider,” the man born in New Haven, Conn., 60 years ago last week.

Under the circumstances, it seems inappropriate to have wished happiness to such a man on his birthday. Instead, we wish the president had spent his date of birth reflecting on the awful, individual deaths his war has wrought and considering the lost birthdays yet to come.