Long Journey Home From Iraq

A soldier's remains touches many
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2008 5:13 AM CDT
Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Lillard canvases Arlington National Cemetery as he places American flags at headstones in honor of Memorial Day, Thursday, May 22, 2008, in Arlington, Va.    (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – One soldier's death reveals more of America's pain more starkly than Iraqi war statistics ever could. So one reporter discovered as he followed the remains of Indiana native son Sgt. Robert Joe Montgomery from a pass near the Tigris to a funeral in Scottsburg, meeting all who suffered along the way. At the riveting center of Chris Jones' haunting journey in Esquire is "Joey" himself.

From the men who transport remains by air, to military morgue workers who handle bodies with devotion, to the neighbors and family who pull together in the wake of a death, Jones sketches the individuals hurt by Montgomery's death. "You can't deny your humanity," an Army chaplain tells him at Montgomery's funeral. "You can put up the wall for so long, but it always crumbles. It crumbles."