New details about soldier's death add urgency to Iraq plans

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The death of any member of the armed services is a tragedy, but if reports concerning 1st Lt. Jacob Fritz's death are true, his sacrifice was especially shocking.

According to an Associated Press report, the 25-year-old Verdon, Neb., Army officer may have been one of four U.S. soldiers abducted during a sneak attack on Karbala, Iraq.

The report indicated that three were shot to death and the fourth mortally wounded with a gunshot to the head when they were found in a neighboring province, far from the compound where they were captured.

Two were handcuffed together in the back seat of a sport-utility vehicle near the southern Iraqi town of Mahawil. A third soldier was found dead on the ground nearby, and the fourth died on the way to the hospital.

Fritz's parents are naturally more concerned about grieving their son's loss and conducting his funeral on Wednesday than finding out the details of his death.

A 2000 Dawson-Verdon High School graduate, he was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. His younger brother, Daniel, however, is on track to graduate from West Point in 2008.

As a graduate of military academy, Jacob Fritz was among Nebraska's best and brightest, accomplishing what many aspire to, but few can achieve.

We owe it to him, his little brother, and all the others like them to be sure the tasks they are called upon to perform are worthy of their sacrifices.

And, as we ponder Iraq's future, we must be sure that those sacrifices have not gone to waste.

Highway haying is good idea

The Legislature gave first-round approval Thursday to an idea that seems like a natural fit for Nebraska.

We're still primarily an agricultural state, and the state motto might as well be, "waste not, want not" -- or at least many of us think it should be.

Under LB43 introduced by Sen. Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek, the Nebraska Department of Roads would be allowed to issue haying permits to farmers and rancher any time, not just when the governor gives special permission during times of drought.

Unlike earlier proposals, however, animal habitat would be protected by allowing mowing only once a year.

Farmers and ranchers need hay; and highways are safer when the weeds aren't allowed to grow too tall, and there's still room for pheasants and other wildlife to find a home.

What could be wrong with that arrangement?

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